District Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Felony Drug Trafficking and Firearm Possession Charges
WASHINGTON – Abdul Samuels, 45, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced to seven years in prison stemming from drug trafficking and gun possession charges, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Samuels, Anthony Fields, 45, of Washington, D.C., and Lonnell Tucker, 42, of Temple Hills, Md., were found guilty on March 21, 2019, following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before the Honorable Amit P. Mehta. Samuels was convicted of conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (crack), and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Judge Mehta sentenced Samuels on October 2, 2019 to seven years in prison. Following his prison term, Samuels will be placed on three years of supervised release.
In June 2017, ATF began investigating the trafficking of narcotics from the Next Level Cuts barbershop located in the 2400 block of MLK, Jr., Avenue, SE and adjoining property above. Through surveillance, controlled purchases from inside and outside the barbershop, residential search warrants, cellphone searches, arrests, jailhouse calls, pleas, and cooperating witnesses, law enforcement discovered a coordinated drug trafficking operation that was centered at the barbershop and extended into Maryland. The investigation established that drug traffickers used the barbershop and adjoining property as a stash location.
The investigation led to a series of arrests beginning in February 2018 which led to the recovery of three firearms from the barbershop and one firearm in a residence, the seizure of more than $7,000 in cash, and without packaging, the seizure of more than 300 grams of PCP, more than 150 grams of heroin, more than 100 grams of fentanyl, boxes of suboxone strips, and more than 100 grams of a cutting agents.
In addition to being convicted of conspiring to distribute heroin and fentanyl from the barbershop, Samuels was also convicted of narcotics trafficking and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition relating to a search of his residence in Southeast, D.C. on May 10, 2018, where ATF recovered a firearm, ammunition, extensive drug paraphernalia, and crack cocaine.
During the trial, officers from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority testified regarding a separate arrest of Samuels in 2018 in Virginia, in which crack cocaine packaged for distribution was recovered from his vehicle. Samuels’ charges in Virginia for that arrest are still pending and on those charges, he is presumed innocent.
The Defendant was previously convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon in D.C. Superior Court, following the shooting of a victim in the neck at the victim’s residence. While serving his sentence for that offense, Samuels was subsequently prosecuted and convicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for his role in the murder of a fellow inmate.
On June 13, 2019, Fields was sentenced to 16 years of incarceration to be followed by eight years of supervised release. On June 14, 2019, Tucker was sentenced to five years of incarceration to be followed by three years of supervised release. On September 25, 2019, Artinis Winston, who was a fugitive for approximately nine months, was sentenced to five years of incarceration to be followed by four years of supervised release for his role in the narcotics conspiracy.
Three other defendants – Darryl Smith, 41, of Washington, D.C., James Venable, 47, of Fort Washington, Md., and Lacy Hamilton, 42, of Suitland, Md. – pled guilty earlier to federal charges. Smith managed the barbershop and was sentenced to 80 months in prison relating to his possession of narcotics in the barbershop on February 1, 2018, and for his possession of packaged fentanyl and a loaded firearm following an arrest by MPD in December 2017 outside of the barbershop. Venable, another conspirator, was sentenced to a 37-month prison term following his possession of narcotics and a firearm in both Washington, D.C. during a December 2017 arrest by MPD and at his residence in Maryland on February 1, 2018. Venable also acknowledged selling narcotics to an ATF confidential informant in July 2017. Hamilton was sentenced to a 15-month prison term for selling narcotics outside the barbershop and in Maryland as part of the charged narcotics conspiracy.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu, Special Agent in Charge Benedict, and Chief Newsham commended the assistance provided by officers and agents of the Prince George’s County Police Department, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who handled the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Macchiaroli and Gregory Rosen of the Violent Crime and Narcotics Trafficking Section, and Paralegal Specialist Candace Battle.