Greenbelt, Maryland (USDOJ.Today) A federal grand jury in Maryland returned an indictment charging Julian Bernard-Alexander Blair, age 27, of Washington, D.C., with discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and with possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The indictment was returned on August 3, 2020, and unsealed at Blair’s initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt on August 10, 2020. At Blair’s detention hearing today, August 14, 2020, U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Sullivan ordered that Blair be detained pending trial.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Ashan M. Benedict of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Washington Field Division; Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; and Chief Amal Awad of the Hyattsville Police Department.
According to the two-count indictment and information presented at today’s hearing, on September 3, 2019, Blair possessed marijuana which he intended to distribute in Hyattsville, Maryland. During an attempted sale of marijuana to others, Blair allegedly discharged a firearm in furtherance of his drug trafficking in broad-day light near student housing for Howard University and University of Maryland students. On that day, law enforcement seized from Blair two firearms, a Glock 43 and a Glock 19. Law enforcement later executed a search warrant at Blair’s residence and recovered: a fully loaded Glock 30 pistol; an AR rifle; three high capacity AR magazines; three high capacity pistol magazines; an AR magazine; over $15,000 in cash, believed to be drug proceeds; approximately one pound of marijuana; and a digital scale.
If convicted, Blair faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute marijuana and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in federal prison for using and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
This case was made possible by investigative leads generated from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). NIBIN is the only national network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms. NIBIN is a proven investigative and intelligence tool that can link firearms from multiple crime scenes, allowing law enforcement to quickly disrupt shooting cycles. For more information on NIBIN, visit https://www.atf.gov/firearms/national-integrated-ballistic-information-network-nibin.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the ATF, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Hyattsville Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leah B. Grossi and Joseph R. Baldwin, who are prosecuting the case.