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Press Release

Jury Convicts Wilmington Career Offender Who Ditched Loaded Glock in the Bushes After Evading Law Enforcement

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

WILMINGTON, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Michael F. Easley, Jr. announced today that a federal jury convicted Wilmington career offender Desmond Antonio Hines, aka “Head,” of illegally possessing a gun as a felon after law enforcement recovered a loaded Glock handgun with an extended magazine that Hines tossed in azalea bushes before he could be arrested on a pending federal drug indictment. Hines has previous convictions for drug trafficking and assault, including a prior federal drug conviction. Hines, age 35, is considered a career offender and is facing up to 15 years in prison for this charge when sentenced later this year. At that time, he will also be sentenced for a drug charge he pled guilty to last year, a crime punishable with up to 30 years in prison.

“Azaleas have long held special significance to the City of Wilmington.  Today they held the key to solving a crime – the critical trial evidence that took an armed felon off the streets,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “I personally tried this case because this defendant, who went by the alias ‘Head,’ made crime his life’s work. When detectives with the Wilmington Police Department went to arrest him on federal drug charges, he evaded law enforcement, ditched a loaded Glock in a patch of bright pink azaleas, and drove away.  Thanks to concerned citizens, advanced forensics, and the dedication of the Wilmington Police Department and ATF, there is one less gun on our streets.”

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Wilmington Police stopped Hines for traffic violations November 7, 2020. Upon approaching the car, the officer noticed an odor of marijuana and asked Hines to step out of the car to conduct a search. A blunt and some marijuana were found in the car, and during the search of Hines, the officer felt what he believed to be a metal object between the defendant’s legs. While the officer attempted to secure handcuffs, Hines tried to flee but was tackled by the officer. A subsequent search of Hines conducted at the police station uncovered a bag containing 10 oxycodone pills and about 17 grams of crack cocaine. 

On March 31, 2022, Detectives attempted to arrest Hines on federal charges related to the November 7 incident. Officers surveilled him driving a new Chrysler minivan. At one point during surveillance, officers lost sight of Hines after he made a series of evasive maneuvers. After officers located Hines and placed him into custody, 911 dispatch reported a call from area residents who saw a man meeting Hines’ description and driving a minivan stop the vehicle, walk to a patch of azalea bushes, and toss something into the bushes before driving off. Upon pulling back the bushes, witnesses saw a firearm. Police responded to the scene, which was approximately ½ mile from where Hines was arrested and recovered a semi-automatic Glock 27 Gen 4 .40 caliber handgun with an extended magazine containing 20 live rounds of ammunition.  Ten of those rounds were a distinctive, red-tipped round known as Hornady Critical Defense.  When executing a search warrant at the Defendant’s residence, detectives found a box of the same ammunition, with ten rounds missing.  Later, testing of the firearm confirmed that Hines’ DNA was present.  

Photo of azalea bushes
Photo of gun in leaves

“As is evident with this case, this man was a dangerous threat to public safety. Our agency will continue to relentlessly pursue criminals who decide to possess and distribute illegal narcotics within our city limits. Additionally, we will ensure that felons are held accountable for their actions when they decide to possess weapons illegally. The work our officers and detectives have put into this case is yet another example of our continued commitment to combatting drugs and gun violence in the City of Wilmington,” said Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II accepted the verdict. The Wilmington Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the case and U.S. Attorney Michael Easley and Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Blondel are prosecuting the case.

The conviction is a result of the ongoing Violent Crime Action Plan (VCAP) initiative which is a collaborative effort with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, working with the community, to identify and address the most significant drivers of violent crime. VCAP involves focused and strategic enforcement, and interagency coordination and intelligence-led policing.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No.7:22-cr-36-M.

Updated July 3, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses