Home / News / Portland cocaine trafficker considered armed career criminal after he was caught with gun tied to 2 shootings

Portland cocaine trafficker considered armed career criminal after he was caught with gun tied to 2 shootings

Jun 20, 2023Jun 20, 2023

An FBI SWAT team raided Anthony D. Brant Jr.'s Happy Valley rental home on March 12, 2021, and found a 9mm gun in a bedroom. The gun was stolen and linked to two Portland shootings last year, one in June 2020 and another in December 2020, police say.

A federal judge Tuesday sentenced 37-year-old Anthony Brant Jr. to six years in prison for his second federal drug-trafficking conviction, qualifying him as an armed career criminal after investigators seized a stolen 9mm pistol from his home that police traced to two Portland shootings.

Brant, described as a leading member of the Portland street gang M.O.B., dealt cocaine, arranged to buy guns via text and social media messages and concealed his drug proceeds by using cash to buy cars titled in others’ names, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Sax.

Though he was arrested and indicted for being a felon with a gun, he pleaded guilty to a subsequent three-count criminal information charging him with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute and two counts of money laundering.

The six-year sentence resulted from extensive negotiations and a major weakness in the government's case -- the seizure of only one gram of cocaine from Brant, according to Sax and Brant's defense lawyer Lisa Ludwig.

It's the government's hope that Brant's designation as a armed career offender will be the end of his drug-trafficking crimes, Sax said.

"It means he's absolutely out of the business unless he wants to spend the rest of his life in prison," Ludwig told U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut.

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Guns are getting into the wrong hands via straw purchases, social media sales and thefts from cars and homes. The proliferation has contributed to a record number of homicides this year in Portland, police and the FBI say.

Brant was previously convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in 2014 and sentenced to five years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release. He was released from prison at the end of April 2018.

In the fall of 2020, Brant convinced a different federal judge to reduce his supervised release from four years to two. He told U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones then that he hadn't touched any form of weapon since he had gotten out of prison and he maintained he had a stable job doing pressure-washing for a company named "Under Pressure," though prosecutors later said the business had been dissolved for more than six years.

Brant also gave the address of the U.S. Probation Office in Portland as his home address, concealing that he was living in Happy Valley under an alias, according to court records.

In 2021, investigators seized guns from his Happy Valley home. They found a loaded .40-caliber ghost gun with a Polymer 80 frame inside a bag tucked under a dresser in the main bedroom, according to a federal affidavit.

A loaded 9mm pistol found in another bedroom had been reported stolen and ballistic analysis showed it was used in separate shootings in Portland, one in June 2020 and another in December 2020, prosecutors said.

Brant wasn't charged in either of the shootings because no evidence existed that he had the gun when the shootings occurred, but he faced federal indictment for being a felon with a gun, according to Sax. No one was injured in either shooting.

Investigators also discovered a distinct black Versace shirt with a red-and-gold scarf-like collar in the home. It was identical to one worn by a gunman in a January 2020 shooting in Portland based on surveillance video of the suspect firing and leaving in a red Durango, the records said.

Seven days after that shooting, Brant texted someone about painting a Durango "smoke grey." "Need it done asap," he wrote, according to court records. Brant wasn't charged in that shooting, which appeared to be a shootout with others and it was unclear who shot first or if he was firing back in self-defense, according to the prosecutor.

FBI agents also recovered text messages that showed Brant's online shopping for guns. In one July 26, 2020, message, he wrote, "I need some thangs….Some hand thangs," and when an associate responded, "Serial number or no," Brant texted back, "Dnt matter," according to prosecutors.

In other text messages, Brant used coded language to inquire about buying special switches, a component to modify a gun to operate in full automatic mode as a mini-machine gun, and 200-round drum magazines of ammunition, police and prosecutors said.

Brant previously shot a man and was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon in 2008 and felon in possession of a gun in 2013.

In his most recent plea agreement, he admitted he had possessed with intent to distribute 400 grams of cocaine and used the drug proceeds to buy two cars: a Dodge Durango for $17,651 and a 2015 Mercedes S550 sedan for $47,500.

"I accept responsibility for my actions. I’m not perfect. I made mistakes," Brant told Immergut. He also apologized to his family.

The judge urged him to "break away" from his gang ties, namely for the sake of his children.

Brant said he will use his time in custody to seek rehabilitation "just to change my life and try to see things from a different point of view.’'

-- Maxine Bernstein

Email [email protected]; 503-221-8212

Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian

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