Criminal Justice News

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Baltimore Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Rob Undercover ATF Special Agents at Gunpoint



Agents Were Part of an Undercover Operation to Purchase Heroin from a Known Drug Dealer

Baltimore, Maryland –Menard Hazelwood, age 29, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to assault of a federal officer and brandishing a firearm in the course of a crime of violence, in connection with the May 26, 2017, assault on two undercover Special Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada of the ATF Baltimore Field Division.

“This case demonstrates how drug trafficking can lead to violence.  The defendants thought they were robbing drug customers.  Unfortunately, this occurs all too often in Baltimore.  These agents, like all law enforcement officers, put their lives on the line every day to identify and disrupt the drug dealers that bring violence to our streets,” said United States Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “We are grateful for their service and sacrifice.”

“ATF focuses our efforts in Baltimore on drug trafficking crews that use firearms to maintain and expand their turf.  ATF agents risk their personal safety each time they infiltrate a criminal organization, yet they do this because they know the importance of their mission to protect the community from these violent criminals,” said ATF Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Cekada. “We are grateful every day that our dedicated Special Agents were unharmed and have been able to fully resume their duties as law enforcement officers.”
 
      According to his plea agreement, on May 26, 2017, during an ATF undercover operation, Hazelwood and a co-defendant attempted to rob two ATF undercover Special Agents (UCs).  A confidential informant (CI) made arrangements to purchase $2,000 worth of heroin.  The UCs had driven the CI to pick up the heroin dealer, with one UC driving and the other UC in the front passenger seat.  They picked up the dealer and drove to a location in West Baltimore to meet with the dealer’s supplier.  When they arrived at the location, the dealer got out of the car and told the CI and the UCs to wait.  Hazelwood and his co-defendant immediately walked up to the vehicle.  The co-defendant asked the UCs for a light.  Hazelwood took advantage of the distraction and pointed a gun at the UC in the passenger seat, while the co-defendant pointed a silver revolver at the other UC.  Hazelwood and his co-defendant demanded money.  The UCs told Hazelwood and his co-defendant, who continued to hold them at gunpoint, that there was cash in the vehicle.  The UCs then gave the distress signal to the covert ATF team that was monitoring the operation.


As the covert team arrived on the scene, the agents saw Hazelwood and his co-defendant pointing handguns at the UCs in the vehicle, and ordered them to put their hands up.  Hazelwood’s co-defendant fled, and the responding ATF Special Agents fired their service weapons, striking the co-defendant.  Hazelwood also broke away and ran to a nearby car, but was not able to get into the car.  Special Agents arrested him at the scene.

Agents recovered the .44-caliber revolver brandished by Hazelwood’s co-defendant during the robbery, but did not recover the gun used by Hazelwood.  Hazelwood admitted that he participated in the robbery, but that he did not know that the undercover Special Agents were federal agents at the time of the robbery.


Hazelwood, and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement, Hazelwood will be sentenced to between seven and 15 years in prison.  U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has scheduled sentencing for March 29, 2019 at 2:00 p.m.

Hazelwood’s co-defendant, Donte Smith, age 33, of Baltimore, is scheduled for a rearraignment on Friday, October 19, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.

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.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the ATF for its work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia C. McLane, who is prosecuting the case.

Repeat Felon & Heroin Dealer Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison


MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Rayshaun Roach, 36, Beloit, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to 12 years in federal prison, for possessing heroin with intent to distribute, possessing firearms in furtherance of that drug trafficking crime, and possessing firearms as a convicted felon. Roach pleaded guilty to these charges on June 29, 2018. His prison term will be followed by a three-year period of supervised release.

Between July and September 2017, Roach distributed small quantities of heroin that was laced with fentanyl to an informant on three occasions. On October 3, 2017, he was arrested based on those controlled deliveries. At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of 48 grams of heroin also laced with fentanyl, two handguns, $1,380, and 93 rounds of ammunition. These items were all in his pants’ pockets. A warrant was executed at his house, and two additional firearms were located. Roach told officers he had the firearms for protection. He admitted he purchased 50 grams of heroin once a week, for $4,000, and distributed it in one-gram quantities.

Roach has prior felony convictions for possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, bail jumping, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a church, and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school.

Judge Conley denied Roach’s request for a six-year sentence, finding that heroin laced with fentanyl is a serious drug that presents a significant risk to the community. Judge Conley also reasoned that Roach was a "regular in the criminal justice system," who was never deterred from selling drugs and violating terms of state supervision.

This case has been brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach involves collaboration by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and communities to prevent and deter gun violence.

The charges against Roach were the result of an investigation conducted by the

Rock County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rita M. Rumbelow.

ATF, Fireams Industry Offer Reward of up to $5,000 for Information in the Virginia Toano General Store Firearms Theft


Toano, Va. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, have announced a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the burglary of Toano General Store, a federal firearms licensee (FFL) in Toano, Va.  ATF and the NSSF are each offering a reward of up to $2,500, for a total reward of $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

Sometime during the overnight hours of Oct. 12, 2018 and Oct. 13, 2018, unknown person(s) broke into the Toano General Store located at 7960 Richmond Road in Toano and stole several firearms, ammunition and currency.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS (800-283-4867), email ATFTips@atf.gov or contact ATF through it’s website at www.atf.gov/contact/atf-tips.  Tips may also be submitted anonymously to ATF by using the ReportIt app, or by visiting www.reportit.com (link is external).  You may also provide information by contacting the James City County Police Department at (757) 253-1800.  You can also call 888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887).  All calls and tips will be kept confidential.

ATF, along with its law enforcement partners, are committed to ensuring that our communities are safe, and that those that commit violent crimes such as these will be held accountable.  The reward is part of a larger national cooperative initiative between the NSSF and ATF, in which the NSSF matches ATF rewards in cases involving the theft of firearms from FFL retailers.  ATF works closely with members of the firearms industry to curb the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms.