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Press Release

Oxford Man Indicted by Federal Grand Jury on Gun and Drug Charges

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

GREENVILLE, N.C. – A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging an Oxford man with illegally possessing a firearm and crack distribution.

According to the indictment, Connell Clayton Lester, 55, is charged with possessing a firearm while subject to a domestic violence protective order, possessing a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine base (crack).

According to the indictment, on March 5, 2020, Lester, a convicted felon, possessed a Hi-Point 9mm handgun while subject to a domestic violence protective order from New York.  It is alleged that the order restrained Lester from harassing, stalking, assaulting, or threatening an intimate partner and prohibited him from possessing a firearm.   Additionally, the indictment alleges that Lester possessed with the intent to distribute crack cocaine and distributed crack cocaine.  If convicted, he faces up to twenty years imprisonment for the drug charge and ten years for the firearm count.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Dodson is prosecuting the case.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.  For more information about Project Guardian, please see:  

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at

Updated July 17, 2020

Project Guardian