A Gainesville man designed as an Armed Career Criminal was sentenced to more than 25 years in federal prison on drug and weapon charges, according to a new release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Lorenzo Joshua Johnson, Jr., 41, will serve 27 years in prison after being convicted at trial on April 8 of drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The case was successfully prosecuted due to the combined efforts of the Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff's Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
"The collaborative efforts of our partners in the Gainesville Gun Violence Initiative continue toproduce impactful results, and we will continue working tirelessly to make North Florida safer,"said U.S. Attorney Jason R. Coody, in a news release. "This sentence ensures that our community will be safer and sends a message that there are real and severe consequences for federal firearm offenses."
Gainesville:Gainesville police investigating fatal hit-and-run crash that left a bicyclist dead
More:FHP: Man, 26, hit and killed by vehicle while walking in Newberry Sunday night
Johnson will serve concurrent sentences of five years for the drug trafficking charge and just over 27 years for the firearm possession charge. His prison sentence will be followed by 10 years of supervised release.
"On behalf of the Gainesville Police Department, I want to express my appreciation to the U.S.Attorney's Office for the successful prosecution of this case," said GPD Chief Lonnie Scott, in the news release. "The collaboration exhibited by the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation is an exemplar of the power of teamwork. Thank you all for helping to keep our community safe."
Porters neighborhood surveillance operation
The case stems from a December 2019 surveillance operation by detectives with the Gainesville-Alachua County Drug Task Force. According to the release, the operation was performed after residents of the Porters community reported drug activity in the area. The reports included specific information about Johnson, who was observed by detectives "engaging in hand-to-hand transactions and collecting cash from other street-level dealers."
Detectives later called in patrol units to detain those suspected of dealing drugs, including Johnson, who was observed with a "distinctive backpack" and diving a white Chevrolet Impala. Johnson was initially found with $600 cash and a key to the Impala. He bonded out of jail after being charged that day with driving on a suspended license.
During the investigation into the Impala, a K-9 unit alerted to the presence of drugs. During a search of the vehicle, detectives located the backpack Johnson had been wearing and discovered it contained a loaded Bersa 9 mm pistol with cocaine residue on the slide, two bags containing about 1ounce of marijuana, a small bag containing crack cocaine, a bag containing over 10 grams of tablets, two smartphones, empty bags, digital scales and personaldocuments belonging to Johnson.
A warrant was issued for Johnson's arrest, and he was eventually detained on Nov. 10, 2020.
Johnson has multiple prior felony convictions, including possession of cocaine with intent to sell, sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, child abuse, burglary structure, felony criminal mischief, and felony driving on a suspended license. He has served two state prison sentences, including seven years in prison from 2010 to 2017.
As an Armed Career Criminal, Johnson was subject to an enhanced sentence for his most current conviction, including a 15-year minimum mandatory prison term.
"We are more effective in our efforts to combat gun violence when we work together with our fellow law enforcement partners and will continue to make public safety a number one priority for our community," said Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. in the release.
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: DOJ: Gainesville man sentenced on federal drug, weapon charges