A federal grand jury sitting in Greensboro, North Carolina last week returned five indictments charging six Richmond County, North Carolina men who were arrested yesterday on charges including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, drug distribution, and Hobbs Act robbery.
These indictments were the result of a coordinated effort among federal, state, and local law enforcement intended to reduce violent and gun-related crime in the Richmond County area, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
In 2017, security concerns prompted the City of Hamlet, North Carolina, to abruptly cancel its July 4th festivities. News of the 2017 Hamlet July 4th cancellation garnered public attention, and Attorney General Sessions, speaking at a gang conference in Winston-Salem on Aug. 17, 2017, remarked, “I heard recently about Hamlet, North Carolina, where this year’s annual Independence Day celebration was canceled suddenly because of threats of gang violence. This is in a town of about 7,000 people. I certainly respect the decision of the city leaders, but it is infuriating and wrong to me that they had to make it. This is America. We will not be held hostage in our homes by gangsters.” The Attorney General pledged to provide assistance to combat that violence, and the cases announced today are a direct result of that pledge.
“At the direction of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dispatched a team of prosecutors to assist federal and local law enforcement officials in central North Carolina to address violent criminal activity in the area,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “It is our hope that that the Criminal Division’s efforts—together with those of our federal and local partners—will lead to a decrease in crime, result in accountability for violent offenders, and lead to safer streets and communities.”
On June 25, the grand jury returned indictments against six individuals including:
Quandon Ha’son Wilson, 26, and Devion Marquis Ward, 22, both of Rockingham, North Carolina, were charged with one count of obstructing, delaying, and affecting commerce and the movement of any article and commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion in connection with the robbery of Duncan’s Food Store in Rockingham on Jan. 8. Wilson and Ward are also charged with one count of using, carrying, or possessing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence;
Quiteraus Dequan Gardner, 22, of Hamlet, was charged with one count of felon in possession of a firearm;
Sajuan Deangelo Leslie, 29, of Rockingham, was charged with one count of felon in possession of a firearm;
Trevon Ibe-Deonte Leslie, 23, of Rockingham, was charged with one count of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and one count of using, carrying, or possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; and
Hikeem Idrise-Lamar Byrd, 24, of Rockingham, was charged in a four-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base; two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The cases indicted this month were investigated by the Hamlet Police Department, Rockingham Police Department, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Federal law enforcement officials are also grateful to Assistant District Attorneys from the the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance. The cases are being prosecuted by Washington, D.C.-based Trial Attorneys Jay Bauer, Erin Cox, Ivana Nizich, Jamie Perry and Sasha Rutizer of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.