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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Denver Police Partner with Federal Law Enforcement to Crack Down on Gun Crimes

Illegal Possession of a Firearm Could Result in 10 Years in Federal Prison

DENVER - The Denver Police Department (DPD), U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Denver Field Division (ATF), the Denver District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced an enhanced partnership in the fight against gun-related crime in Denver. The goal is identifying, arresting, and prosecuting the offenders most involved with violent crime in our community. The enhanced approach focuses on violent felons who carry or use firearms and who are also the most likely contributors to violence in Denver.

“If you commit a gun crime in Denver, you should know that federal, state, and local law enforcement will be working together to catch you and send you to jail for a long time,” said Acting United States Attorney Matt Kirsch.

“Gun-related crime has devastating, lasting effects on our community and this strategy is a smart evolution in our approach to addressing the problem of convicted violent felons with guns,” said Chief of Denver Police Paul M. Pazen. “Today, we stand together as law enforcement partners to put convicted violent felons on notice – if you choose to illegally possess or use a firearm in Denver, we will do everything within our authority to ensure you face the greatest penalties.”

“Partnerships such as this are one of ATF’s most powerful tools to protect the public,” said ATF Denver Special Agent in Charge David Booth. “We look forward to utilizing this enhanced process to continue protecting the public and bringing violent offenders to justice.”  

The enhanced approach pairs an ATF agent who specializes in illegal firearms investigations with a dedicated DPD investigator to:

  • respond to investigations in-progress to assist officers on-scene with gathering evidence and creating reports
  • review cases involving Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender (POWPO) for prosecution by either the Denver District Attorney’s Office or the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado
  • prioritize cases for the consideration of filing the most serious available charges based on connections to shootings, whether the crime occurred in a crime hotspot, and the likelihood of future violent activity

This work builds on Denver’s previous efforts at tackling gun violence through prosecutions targeted at the most dangerous offenders. 

The enhanced process will be supported by new training delivered to all DPD officers to ensure gun charges are thoroughly documented from the outset of investigations and to enable officers to draw on federal investigative and prosecutorial resources in appropriate cases. Procedures will also feature regular communication between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Denver District Attorney’s Office to determine the best outcomes in individual cases and ensure the most efficient and effective prosecutorial decisions.

A convicted violent felon possessing a firearm violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1), which carries penalties of up to ten years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.  Federal law also creates mandatory minimum sentences of at least five years of imprisonment for possessing, brandishing, or discharging a firearm during the commission of other violent or drug crimes.

Examples of previous similar successful federal prosecutions of violent felons in possession of a firearm or ammunition include:

  • In United States v. Rhyan Littlejohn-Connor, 20-cr-00341-RBJ, the defendant fired 12 shots at two people outside an apartment building on September 27, 2020, striking one in the head. He was convicted of being a felon in possession of ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On June 14, 2021, the defendant was sentenced to 84 months of imprisonment in the federal Bureau of Prisons.
  • In United States v. Herman Colbert, 19-cr-00321-RBJ, the defendant got into an altercation regarding a relationship dispute on July 2, 2019. During the fight, the defendant shot and killed the other person. The defendant was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and was sentenced to 120 months of imprisonment on February 4, 2021.
  • In United States v. Joshua Taron Jones, 20-cr-00150-PAB, the defendant shot at six individuals in an apartment complex during a dispute on May 6, 2020.  Investigators discovered a sawed-off shotgun in the defendant’s residence, and he was charged with possession of an unregistered short-barreled shotgun in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5851(d). He was convicted and sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment on January 29, 2021.
  • In United States v. Jarod Rajai Walker, 19-cr-00095-CMA, the defendant was involved in a shootout on February 20, 2019, where he shot and killed another person. The defendant was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). He was convicted and sentenced to 96 months’ imprisonment on September 25, 2019. 
  • In United States v. Nickie Nathanial Rico and Armando Rogelio Durete, 19-cr-00145-PAB, both defendants were involved in a shootout on September 16, 2018, in downtown Denver at the corner of 15th and Market. An innocent bystander was hit and seriously wounded by the gunfire. Both defendants were charged with being felons in possession of firearms and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Durete was convicted after trial and Rico pled guilty to the charge. Rico was sentenced on February 7, 2020, to 97 months imprisonment. Durete was sentenced on February 28, 2020, to 120 months imprisonment.

In a related effort, Metro Denver Crime Stoppers, DPD and ATF Denver are partnering to post billboards in the five areas of Denver identified as violent crime hot spots, which are the vicinities of South Federal Boulevard & West Alameda Avenue, Colfax Avenue & Broadway, East Colfax Avenue & North Yosemite Street, East 47th Avenue & North Peoria Street, and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard & North Holly Street. The billboards will encourage community members to report gun crime and illegal activity to help address and prevent gun violence, and the billboards will also promote securely storing firearms to prevent theft or misuse. The billboards are part of Denver’s Collaborative Crime Prevention Initiative that combines evidence-based precision policing in the identified hot spots with supports for residents provided by Denver city agencies and community-based organizations.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated July 29, 2021