DENVER – Amid the rise of violent crime in metro areas across the nation – including Denver and Aurora – the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office has doubled down on efforts to target gun violence and enforce federal firearm laws. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on the criminal justice process, the office filed 51 indictments related to firearms since June.
The Denver Post recently reported that “Denver is on track to have its deadliest year in a decade.” In addition, Aurora has seen homicides and violent crime increase 53 percent since last year.
As part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s effort to address the rise in violent crime, and gun crime in particular, U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn has directed his staff to work closely with local law enforcement agencies and aggressively pursue federal felon in possession charges where appropriate. It is illegal under both state and federal law for a convicted felon to possess a firearm. However, federal sentences for such offenses are typically much higher than at the state level. In addition, federal courts are often more willing to grant pre-trial detention requests than state courts. U.S. Attorney Dunn has emphasized to local law enforcement in recent months that his office will take such cases for federal prosecution to help ensure the toughest possible sentences and to assist affected communities in quickly getting the worst actors off the streets.
Specifically, since June, the office has charged 41 individuals with being a felon in possession of a firearm under 18 USC § 922, and 10 individuals with being in possession of a weapon during drug trafficking under 18 USC § 924.
Examples of recent cases involving the felon in possession charge include:
- In September, Andre Daniel Gilmore, a convicted felon from Denver, was sentenced to 40 months in prison for illegally possessing a firearm. At the time of his arrest, Gilmore was on bond for an attempted murder case in Denver County.
- In August, Nicholas Meyers, of Denver, was sentenced to serve over 11 years in federal prison followed by 5 years on supervised release for distribution of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Meyers sold 11 firearms including an assault-style rifle capable of accepting high capacity magazines and just under 10 ounces of methamphetamine to an undercover federal agent.
- In June, Jalonni Alexander Moore, also from Denver, was sentenced to serve 16 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years on supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The charges were filed after Moore was involved in a shootout near downtown Denver where one individual was killed.
Other types of crime related to guns or illegal weapons includes straw purchases and going after those illegally in possession of destructive devices like pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails. The focus on weapon-related charges that has been seen in recent months is the result of the critical law enforcement partnership between federal agencies (United States Attorney’s Offices, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FBI, the DEA, and the U.S. Marshals), and local law enforcement.
“We have made a concerted effort this year to focus on preventing future gun crimes and prosecuting those who commit violent crime,” Dunn said. “We’re making sure that the most serious, readily provable charges are brought against anyone who commits a gun-related crime. That ensures that not only are these criminals taken off the street but that they are kept out of the community for a significant period of time.”
Pending any potential changes to the court calendar, this week will see hearings in gun cases brought by the office, including sentencing hearings and change of plea hearings in several cases. The office anticipates sending out a press release on Friday summarizing the results of gun cases from the week.
Throughout the week, the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office will also be joining a nationwide effort to highlight cases that have helped reduce gun violence, to learn more follow us on Twitter.