“Zebra Girl” is now wearing prison stripes.
Kendall Danielle Jones, 23, of Rock Hill, dubbed “Zebra Girl” by undercover police, is the first Rock Hill defendant to be found guilty in the largest seizure of guns in New York City history.
Jones, who carried an assault rifle in a black-and-white striped suitcase from Rock Hill to New York City aboard a packed bus, has pleaded guilty to three felony weapons charges and has been sentenced to four years in prison.
That could mean the rest of the Rock Hill gunrunners charged as part of what police and prosecutors call an “Iron Pipeline” of weapons to New York soon will face even longer sentences if found guilty.
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Taylor Vogt, spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Corrections, said Jones pleaded guilty to avoid facing trial on more charges for which she faced as many as 20 years in prison.
In one of the alleged gun sales, Jones consulted a video on her cellphone as she tried to assemble an assault rifle at 8:10 a.m. at the busy corner of Grand and Chrystie streets near Chinatown in New York City, as thousands of commuters walked by on their way to their jobs.
It is unclear what role, if any, Jones will play in the prosecution of the seven other defendants from Rock Hill who were arrested a year ago this week in a sweeping dragnet that netted hundreds of weapons. Prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said there was no mention in Jones’ plea of any cooperation she might give in the cases of her co-defendants.
Since the arrests last summer, York County has not seen major gun arrests or other ongoing plots, officials with the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit said. The pipeline of guns and ammunition from South Carolina, which has more lax gun laws than New York, seemed to end with the arrests in Rock Hill.
“We’ve had gun seizures, but nothing of this magnitude and nothing where it appears that the destination for the guns was a place like New York, where purchase and possession laws are different,” said Sgt. Allen Cantey, one of the York County drug unit supervisors who helped New York police in the sting.
The scheme that ran in 2012 and 2013 was simple: Buy the guns in York County, where guns are relatively inexpensive, and take them by bus to New York, where gun possession is largely illegal and prices on the street are sky-high. Police informants used video and audio surveillance, cellphone wiretaps and undercover officers to infiltrate the plot. An alleged cell of gunrunners from North Carolina also was charged. Nineteen people were arrested.
The alleged Rock Hill gunrunners were the most brazen, however. Jones took several trips to New York aboard a bus to Chinatown with her boyfriend, Earl Campbell, 24, of Rock Hill. Campbell is the alleged mastermind of the plot. Police say he received more than $75,000 from undercover cops to sell them 90 guns – ranging from pistols to assault rifles – and “cop-killer” bullets. Campbell met with undercover cops for street buys at least two dozen times, according to court records.
Campbell, who remains jailed in New York, faces more than 200 felony counts that could result in a life prison term upon conviction. He has rejected an offer from prosecutors to plead guilty in exchange for a 30-year prison sentence, court records show, and he is next scheduled to appear in court Sept. 5.
Six other Rock Hill residents were charged as gun brokers in connection to the alleged gunrunning ring:
Larick Michaux, 27, a convicted felon banned from possessing guns, remains jailed after allegedly brokering gun deals and arguing with Campbell over gun profits.
Warquisha “Choppers” Michaux, 29, Larick Michaux’s sister, also is in a New York jail. Police gave her the nickname “Choppers” because of a favorite gun that she bragged about.
Arthur Barber, 27; Marcell Dyess, 22; Chris Hill, 25; and Brandon Potts, 25.
All are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 5.