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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Gainesville convicted felon sentenced to over 27 years in prison for firearm, drug offenses

A 41-year-old convicted felon from Gainesville was sentenced to over 27 years in federal prison after he was convicted at trial of drug trafficking and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon on April 8, 2022.

The sentence was announced on Thursday by Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Lorenzo Joshua Johnson, Jr. will serve concurrent sentences of 5 years for the possession with intent to distribute marijuana charge and 27 years and three months for the possession of a firearm by convicted felon charge.

Lorenzo Joshua Johnson, Jr.
Lorenzo Joshua Johnson, Jr.

Johnson’s prison sentence will be followed by 10 years of supervised release.

According to court records, on December 5, 2019, Gainesville-Alachua County Drug Task Force detectives conducted a surveillance operation in the Porter’s neighborhood in Gainesville after receiving complaints about narcotics activity. These complaints included specific information about Johnson being one of the primary drug dealers in the neighborhood.

During the surveillance operation that day, detectives observed Johnson engaging in hand-to-hand transactions and collecting cash from other street-level dealers. Detectives also observed Johnson to be wearing a distinctive backpack and driving a white Chevrolet Impala.

Towards the end of the surveillance operation, detectives requested marked patrol units to detain several suspects who had been observed engaging in suspected drug transactions, which included Johnson.  A pat-down search of Johnson revealed over $600 in cash and the key to the white Chevrolet Impala he had been observed driving.

Johnson was arrested that day for driving on a suspended driver’s license and he later bonded out of jail while the investigation into the Impala was still ongoing.

A certified narcotics detection K-9 conducted an open-air sniff of the Impala, which was parked nearby, and positively alerted to the odor of narcotics. The Impala was towed and later searched pursuant to a search warrant.

During the search of the vehicle, detectives located the backpack Johnson had been wearing and discovered that it contained a loaded Bersa 9mm pistol with cocaine residue on the slide, two bags containing approximately one ounce of marijuana, a small baggie containing cocaine, a baggie containing over ten grams of tablets (later determined to contain a mixture of methamphetamine and Eutylone), two smart phones, empty baggies, digital scales, and personal documents belonging to Johnson.

One latent fingerprint recovered from one of the digital scales was identified to Johnson. Detectives confirmed that Johnson is a multi-time convicted felon. An arrest warrant was obtained for state charges relating to the drugs and firearm recovered from the Impala, and it remained outstanding until Johnson was arrested on November 10, 2020.

Upon Johnson’s arrest, the case was brought to the attention of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which adopted the case for federal prosecution and conducted an additional investigation. A federal search warrant was executed for Johnson’s DNA, which was compared to DNA recovered from the Bersa firearm by an analyst at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

A mixed DNA profile recovered from the firearm was determined to include Johnson as a possible contributor. Johnson had multiple prior felony convictions, including possession of cocaine with intent to sell, sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine (two counts), battery on a law enforcement officer (two counts), resisting an officer with violence (two counts), child abuse, burglary of a structure, felony criminal mischief, and felony driving with a suspended license.

Johnson had previously served two state prison sentences, including seven years in prison from 2010 to 2017. He was determined to qualify as an armed career criminal, which provided for an enhanced sentence, including a mandatory prison sentence of at least 15 years.

This sentencing resulted from the collaborative work of the Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Chris Elsey.

“The collaborative efforts of our partners in the Gainesville Gun Violence Initiative continue to produce impactful results, and we will continue working tirelessly to make North Florida safer,” said U.S. Attorney Coody. “This sentence ensures that our community will be safer and sends a message that there are real and severe consequences for federal firearm offenses.”