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WASHINGTON – James Venable, 40, of Temple Hills, Md., pled guilty today to federal firearms and narcotics offenses.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Henry P. Stawinski III, Chief of the Prince George’s County, Md. Police Department.
Venable pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a crime punishable in excess of 12 months in prison and one count of unlawful distribution of a detectable amount of heroin. He faces up to 30 years in prison. The Honorable Amit P. Mehta scheduled sentencing for Oct. 16, 2018.
Venable’s charges arise from a law enforcement investigation regarding alleged drug trafficking from the Next Level Cuts barbershop and surrounding property in the 2400 block of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE. On Feb. 1, 2018, law enforcement agents from ATF, MPD and the Prince George’s County Police Department executed search warrants on three locations and five vehicles, which led to the seizure of firearms, ammunition, and quantities of narcotics. During the course of the investigation, Venable had been arrested twice in possession of distribution quantities of narcotics and a loaded firearm.
According to the government’s evidence, on Dec. 5, 2017, MPD’s Narcotics and Special Investigations Division was conducting undercover operations in the 600 block of Yuma Street SE. After purchasing crack cocaine, a lookout was given for the suspect dealer. Law enforcement moved in to stop the suspected dealer, who was standing with Venable next to Venable’s vehicle. An MPD canine officer and canine responded to the location and the canine gave a positive reaction for the presence of a firearm in the immediate area of the front-passenger-seat compartment. Upon opening the compartment, law enforcement observed a loaded 9 mm handgun. Venable was subsequently arrested with 32 grams of heroin on his person.
Then, on Feb. 1, 2018, while he was on pretrial release from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for his Dec, 5, 2017 arrest, law enforcement executed search warrants on Venable’s residence and vehicle in Maryland. Law enforcement recovered three baggies containing approximately 10.6 grams of heroin and $852 in cash from Venable’s person. During the search of Venable’s vehicle, law enforcement recovered an AWS-600 digital scale on the driver’s side floor, a small black digital scale in the center console, and a black Sharpstone box containing a silver press in the trunk. During the search of Venable’s residence, law enforcement recovered a loaded .45 caliber pistol that had been reported stolen. In the kitchen, law enforcement recovered a black scale, a silver press, plastic sandwich baggies, and a strainer. In the hallway closet, law enforcement located a blue Nike bag containing two scales, a spoon, and plastic baggies, as well as, additional packing material for narcotics.
Venable was charged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and he agreed to have the charge transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as part of a global resolution to the charges against him.
One other defendant pled guilty to charges in the case and another is awaiting trial. Darryl Smith, 41, the manager of the Next Level Cuts barbershop, pled guilty to federal narcotics and firearms offenses and is to be sentenced on Aug. 15, 2018. Anthony Fields, 44, of Washington, D.C., was indicted for drug trafficking offenses and is awaiting trial.
In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Liu, Special Agent in Charge Chittum, Chief Newsham, and Chief Stawinski commended the work of those investigating and prosecuting the cases. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who are handling the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Paralegal Specialists Candace Battle, Teesha Tobias, and Kim Hall; Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Parker Tobin and Rebecca Caruso of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Macchiaroli, and from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Sykes.