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Press Release

Bladenboro Gang Member Sentenced on Firearm Charge After Leading Three Men in Daytime Burglary

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

NEW BERN, N.C. – A Bladenboro man was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on the morning of April 5, 2018, four people—defendant Devin Antonio Manuel, codefendants Jaden Davis and Charles Smith, and a juvenile male—burglarized a home in Bladenboro, North Carolina.  They stole many items, including a television, cellular phones, gaming consoles, and a safe that contained five firearms.  In positioning their car to load the items, they damaged the victims’ porch and left blue paint on a railing.  The men then drove to an isolated field where they broke into the safe, removed the firearms, and started a fire in which they burned much of the other property in the safe, including victim family heirlooms.

On October 8, 2019, Davis was sentenced to 13 months in prison and on August 27, 2019, Smith received a 21-month sentence for their involvement in these crimes.

Later the same day, a pair of men attempted to pawn two class rings from the burglary at a store in Elizabethtown.  The store owner, who personally knew the victims and saw their names engraved on the rings, reported the event to the victims and later to police.  The owner identified Manuel, a known member of the Bloods street gang, as one of the men involved. 

The next day, acting on an anonymous tip, police recovered one of the firearms in a parking lot of an apartment complex in Bladenboro.  Four people, including codefendant Jaden Davis and the juvenile who participated in the burglary, were standing behind the trunk of a car looking at a Ruger .22 caliber rifle.  The rifle was one of the firearms stolen in the burglary, and Davis was wearing a watch that had been stolen.  The juvenile confessed to the crime and identified his accomplices.  Law enforcement later confirmed codefendant Charles Smith’s involvement based on GPS data from his car, as well as damage to his car and blue paint that matched the damage to the victims’ porch.  Forensics subsequently identified latent fingerprints from the gun safe left in the field as belonging to Manuel. 

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 make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Since 2017, the United States Department of Justice has reinvigorated the PSN program and has targeted violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

That effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices in those communities on a sustained basis to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Bladen County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on our website. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 7:18-cr-0196-FL.

Updated August 18, 2020

Project Safe Neighborhoods