Justice Department Announces Charges in Connection with Foiled Plot to Assassinate U.S. Citizen in New York City
Federal and local law-enforcement officials announced today that 21 individuals were charged in connection with firearms-trafficking, drug-distribution, conspiracy, and other offenses as part of a targeted violent crime reduction initiative in Memphis, Tennessee. The indictments are the result of a series of coordinated arrests made following a months-long multi-agency operation.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Memphis Police Department (MPD) initiated this investigation after analyzing crime and gun recovery statistics. By examining more than 5,000 data points collected from the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), MPD’s Real Time Crime Center, and 911 calls referencing shots fired, analysts were able to identify areas of Memphis with the highest density of firearm-related crime. Based on that analysis and other information, ATF opened an investigation into illegal activity at several locations around Memphis and Shelby County.
“The dozens of charges and arrests announced today represent what federal, state, and local law enforcement can accomplish when we work hand-in-hand to take violent criminals and trigger-pullers off our streets,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “When we harness the Justice Department’s resources and technology — especially crime-gun intelligence from ATF’s NIBIN network — we are able to identify and arrest the culprits of gun violence and safeguard our communities. Across the country, our towns and cities are safer because of the dedication and bravery of federal agents and their state and local partners, and the 21st-century crime-solving tools DOJ is able to provide.”
“For months, ATF agents and our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners have been investigating violent criminals who have terrorized Memphis,” said Director Steve Dettelbach of the ATF. “The results are now clear: more than 20 arrests; nearly 100 seized firearms, including guns outfitted with machine gun conversion devices; and large quantities of narcotics – including fentanyl. All done better than ever using crime gun intelligence to catch the worst of the worst. ATF commits to continue using and sharing its intelligence with partners around the country to further drive down violent crime.”
“We have a serious gun violence problem in Memphis and strong law enforcement partnership is one of our most effective tools for addressing it,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin Ritz for the Western District of Tennessee. “This was an extensive, well-coordinated, and sustained effort to identify and take down some of our community’s most dangerous repeat offenders, serial shooters, and firearms trafficking rings so that we protect citizens and ensure our city’s safety. I want to thank our law enforcement partners for their hard work and reiterate this office’s commitment to working with them to make our streets safer.”
“ATF is committed to reducing the impact of firearm related violent crime in our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson of ATF Nashville. “Using technology helps us to identify the high crime areas and those who criminally possess firearms. We employ every technique available to law enforcement to dismantle criminal organizations and disrupt the illegal use of firearms for criminal activity. Working with our law enforcement partners, this enforcement initiative did just that.”
Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson of the ATF Nashville Division, U.S. Marshal Tyreece Miller, Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis of the Memphis Police Department, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clint Cannon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Chief Deputy Anthony Buckner of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office provided additional details relating to the initiative, as well as on larger firearms enforcement and violence-prevention efforts.
Additionally, District Attorney General Steve Mulroy announced that his office obtained a court order under Tennessee law to shut down the Save a Stop 2 store as a nuisance and danger to the community. The order was based on the excessive illegal firearm and drug crimes being committed on and around the property.
“This is an excellent example of effective partnerships among agencies,” said Shelby County District Attorney Steven J. Mulroy. “Thanks to the great work of the ATF and our local law enforcement, we were able to file a nuisance action to shut down a breeding ground of crime in the community which had long degraded neighborhood residents' safety and quality of life. Because of that and the work by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, residents can now look forward to a safer community.”
Between 2022 and 2023, law enforcement officials investigated illegal firearm and drug crimes happening in Memphis and Shelby County. Information from 911 calls involving the Save a Stop 2 property showed repeated reports of armed persons, drug overdoses, shots fired, both aggravated and simple assaults, auto thefts, fights, drug sales, and other disturbances. Many of these activities took place in the store’s public parking lot during business hours while nearby uninvolved, law-abiding citizens were engaged in their shopping or day-to-day errands.
The joint investigation has led to nine indictments or complaints and 21 defendants facing federal charges. Federal agents purchased or seized 91 firearms, six of which were outfitted with machine gun conversion devices or “switches” designed to convert a firearm to a fully automatic weapon. Additionally, law enforcement purchased or seized almost two kilograms of methamphetamine, 332 grams of powder cocaine, 210 grams of powder fentanyl, almost 65 grams of crack cocaine, 2,826 fentanyl pills, and 767 MDMA/Meth pills.
Some defendants were charged together, but several others were charged individually. The following charges have been filed in United States District Court, according to court documents:
Marvis Harris, 49, Christopher Butts, 41, and Antoinette Ozier, 41, were indicted together on drug distribution charges. In the same indictment:
Harris and Butts were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs as well as distribution of drugs.
Butts and Ozier were charged with unlawfully possessing firearms following felony convictions and for possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Harris was also charged with unlawfully possessing firearms following felony convictions, illegal possession of machine guns, and with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Ozier was charged with using a premises for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing drugs.
Ernell Paige, 45, was charged in an indictment with possessing drugs with intent to distribute and with distribution of drugs.
Ulandus Mayes, 34, and Christopher Watts, 39, were indicted together for engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a federal firearms license and for unlawfully possessing firearms following felony convictions. Mayes was additionally charged with distribution of drugs and possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Enrique Cardenas-Otra, 41, was charged with unlawfully possessing firearms following felony convictions and for engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a federal firearms license.
Xavier Ashford, 30, and Marquez Glover, 21, were both charged with distribution of drugs.
Leedell Otis, 46, Ricky Brooks, 41, and Jeremiah Otis, 34 were indicted together. In the same indictment:
Leedell Otis and Ricky Brooks were also charged with unlawfully possessing firearms following felony convictions.
In addition, Leedell Otis and Jeremiah Otis were charged with distribution of narcotics, and use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Justin Bankhead, 33, was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Jamar Anderson, 27, Tijerol Crawford, 33, Raymond Greenwood, 39, Broderick Harper, 26, Benjamin Jones, 28, Octavius McMullen, 32, and Larry Raiford, 58 were indicted together. In the same indictment:
Anderson, Jones, Crawford, Greenwood, and McMullen were also charged with unlawfully possessing firearms following felony convictions.
Anderson, Jones, Raiford, and Crawford were charged with distribution of narcotics.
Harper and Jones were charged with possession of a machinegun conversion device.
Crawford was charged with carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Adrian Seymour, 37, was indicted for unlawfully possessing firearms following felony convictions, distribution of narcotics, and use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
ATF led the investigation preceding the indictments with assistance from MPD, the U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, HSI, and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marques Young and Michelle Parks for the Western District of Tennessee are leading the team that is prosecuting the cases.
These indictments are 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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, using data-driven methods to set focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.