An Ocala man with 20 prior felony convictions will spend at least 15 years behind bars after pleading guilty to a federal firearm offense.
On Tuesday, November 21, United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced that 54-year-old Craig Antwon O’Neal pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm affecting commerce by a convicted felon.
O’Neal faces a mandatory minimum term of 15 years, up to life, in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
According to the indictment and arrest report, on July 20, 2020, the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team (UDEST) was conducting surveillance at the Days Inn located at 3620 W Silver Springs Boulevard in an attempt to locate O’Neal. At the time, four warrants had been issued for sale and possession of cocaine.
During the surveillance, UDEST agents determined that O’Neal was “dealing narcotics” from one of the motel’s rooms. The room was being rented to an adult female, and she consented to a search of the room.
The arrest report stated that during an interior search of the motel room, a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic firearm was found inside a satchel that was near the bottom of a nightstand. Investigators determined that the firearm belonged to O’Neal.
As a multi-convicted felon, O’Neal is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law.
O’Neal has a total of 20 prior state felony convictions that include strong-arm robbery, resisting arrest with violence, sale of cocaine, and burglary of a conveyance. Due to his extensive criminal record, he qualifies for a sentencing enhancement as an armed career criminal.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team investigated this case, and it is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Belkis H. Crockett.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve in an effort to reduce violent crime and gun violence.