Mississippi News

Greenville man sentenced for possessing a machine gun

A Greenville man was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for illegal possession of a machine gun.

According to court documents, Johnny Watkins a/k/a Lil Munk, 19, committed a string of violent crimes in the Greenville-area leading to the execution of a search warrant at his residence. Watkin’s social media account showed that Watkins bragged about gang activity, posed with numerous firearms and illicit narcotics, and threatened rival gang members. Based on the pictures posted on social media and the recent string of crimes committed by Watkins, law enforcement officials obtained authorization to search Watkin’s residence. During the search of his residence, law enforcement recovered a Glock 10mm pistol with a 23-round magazine. Attached to the Glock pistol was a machine gun conversion device (“MCD”) commonly referred to as a “switch.” In addition to possession of a machin egun, the district court considered Watkins use of firearms in other related crimes including the shooting of a Greenville Police Department officer’s residence.

Following a sentencing hearing, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Debra M. Brown sentenced Watkins to 30 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

“The proliferation of these devices presents a clear and present danger to Mississippians,” said U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner. “We hope that this sentence sends a clear message that those who engage in criminal activity will be held accountable for their illegal acts and for their use and possession of automatic weapons.”

“The illegal possession of machine gun conversion devices, that readily convert firearms into machine guns, are a significant threat to our communities and remain a top priority for ATF,” said ATF New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Joshua Jackson. “The sentence imposed today sends a message to the community that the law enforcement community will hold offenders accountable, and ATF will remain focused on reducing violent gun crime while disrupting access to these illegal machine guns by the criminal element.”

“The Greenville Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety of the community,” said Greenville Police Chief Marcus Turner. “We will continue our efforts to rid out countless acts of violence, specifically done by altered weapons. We are actively out daily fighting to reduce crime and gun violence.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives as well as the Greenville Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Stringfellow prosecuted the case.

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