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Press Release

Two Defendants Plead Guilty to Violating the Federal Gun Control Act

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

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – DARNELL MELTON, age 27, and SAUL REED, age 32, both residents of New Orleans, Louisiana, pleaded guilty on December 19, 2023, before U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey to charges in a 15-count second superseding indictment.

MELTON and REED both pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(8). REED additionally pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and tapentadol in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), and 841(b)(1)(D).

According to court documents, MELTON has prior Louisiana felony convictions for simple robbery, simple burglary, and attempted possession of a firearm by a felon. In March of 2023, MELTON lived in a New Orleans East house which the FBI identified as the residence of members of a gang known as the “10x”, a reference to the St. Thomas Housing Development in the 10th Ward.

On March 28, 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) executed a search warrant at the residence. When law enforcement announced their presence to execute the search, the occupants refused to exit the house and repeatedly ignored subsequent commands to come outside. While the officers and agents were outside, multiple gunshots were fired nearby. Moments after the gunshots, 911 dispatch received a call falsely claiming that a five-year old child was shot the next block over. The call came from inside the residence. More than an hour after law enforcement arrived, MELTON, REED, and two juveniles exited the house. FBI found two AR-15 pistols and three handguns inside the house. One of the handguns belonged to MELTON. FBI also recovered a backpack belonging to REED. Inside REED’s backpack there was tapentadol, marijuana, a digital scale, latex gloves, and a black ski mask.

REED was pulled over two months later by Louisiana State Police. He had another backpack in his car containing marijuana and a loaded Sig Sauer handgun. REED is prohibited from possessing a gun because of prior Louisiana felony convictions for simple burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

For their felon in possession of firearm convictions, MELTON and REED each face a maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release. For his conviction for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, REED faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, up to a $1,000,000 fine, and a minimum of three years of supervised release. Each count also carries a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.

This case is 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, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Louisiana State Police, and the New Orleans Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Berman of the Violent Crime Unit.


Shane M. Jones

Public Information Officer

United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

United States Department of Justice

Updated December 29, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods