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Press Release

Violent No Rats Allowed Member Sentenced for Possessing a Machine Gun and Distributing Fentanyl

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON – Bartwone Copeland, a previously convicted felon and member of the “No Rats Allowed” crew, was sentenced today to 12 years in prison in connection with his possession of firearms, including a machinegun, and distribution of fentanyl. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves; FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Scott of the Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division; and Chief Pamela A. Smith of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

            Copeland, 28, of Southwest Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on December 4, 2023, to unlawful possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl; unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon; and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense. In addition to the 144-month prison term, the Honorable Dabney L. Friedrich today ordered Copeland to serve five years of supervised release.

            According to court documents, Copeland was a member of “NRA” or “No Rats Allowed,” a street crew that trafficked drugs out of townhouses on the 200 block of K Street SW. NRA also used the homes as stash locations or “trap houses” for narcotics and firearms. Copeland sold controlled substances, including crack-cocaine and marijuana, but primarily focused his business on pills laced with fentanyl that he had arranged to be shipped to the District from California.

            At the time of each of Copeland’s two arrests, he was in possession of Glock 23 .40 caliber handguns with obliterated serial numbers and extended magazines.

            On November 3, 2021, MPD officers and FBI agents executed a search warrant at “the Dope Hole,” a trap house Copeland operated on the 200 block of K Street SW. Inside the townhome, officers encountered Copeland, aka “Bart” aka “Shmoney,” and four other people. Copeland was the only person in the kitchen. In the kitchen officers recovered about 37 grams of crack cocaine, 457 blue pills containing fentanyl (approximately 48.6 grams), about 980 grams of suspected marijuana, $1,686 on his person, and another $7,010 in a Prada bag. Police found three firearms in a kitchen drawer. One of the guns was a Glock 23 pistol that had been modified with a “switch” converting it into a fully automatic machine gun that could fire 20 shots with the single pull of a trigger.  At the time of that arrest, Copeland was on escape status, as he had absconded from a halfway house.

            On November 7, 2022, a week after his initial indictment, FBI agents stopped Copeland driving an Infiniti sedan after following him from the District to the Camden Potomac Yard Apartments in Arlington, Va. In Copeland’s lap was a bag which included $3,500 in cash, and a baggie containing 957 blue pills containing fentanyl. From Copeland’s waistband, FBI agents recovered a Glock 23, 40mm pistol loaded with a 22-round magazine. The firearm had an obliterated serial number. Copeland admitted that he had possessed the firearm, which had traveled in interstate commerce. After obtaining a search warrant, agents searched Copeland’s Alexandria apartment and recovered 57.8 grams of suspected crack-cocaine inside a pair of Dior shoes and about $5,000 in cash.

            Across these two arrests Mr. Copeland possessed more than 1,400 pills with a total weight of more than 150 grams. However, text messages on Copeland’s digital devices indicated that he was trafficking in much larger amounts. Text messages suggest that over two weeks in August 2022, Mr. Copeland purchased 20,000 pills—an amount that would likely weigh well over a kilogram. Furthermore, although the pills looked like legitimate Oxycodone pills, Copeland knew they contained fentanyl, as he shared a news article about a drug bust involving “[his] folks” that identified the blue pills as containing fentanyl.

            Copeland has an extensive criminal history that includes a conviction in D.C. Superior Court for assault with a dangerous weapon, a conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm, a guilty plea for attempt to commit robbery, and numerous violations of the terms of his supervised release.

            This case was investigated by the MPD and the FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Song and Joshua Gold.



Updated June 3, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-471