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Press Release

Raleigh Man Sentenced to More Than 6 Years for Illegally Possessing a Firearm and Ammunition

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

NEW BERN – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today in federal court, United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced DOMINIQUE DASHAWN WATSON, 27, of Raleigh, NC, to 82 months imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

WATSON was named in an Indictment filed on September 19, 2018 charging him with Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon on July 12, 2018.  On March 28, 2019, WATSON pled guilty to that charge. 

According to the investigation, on July 12, 2018, investigators with the Raleigh Police Department conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle occupied by WATSONWATSON was removed from the vehicle and detained due to the odor of marijuana in the vehicle.  During a search of WATSON, investigators seized 16 grams of marijuana from WATSON’S underwear.  During a search of the vehicle, investigators located a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in between the center console and carpeting that had been pulled away from the center console.  The handgun was loaded with a round of ammunition in the chamber and 21 rounds of assorted 9mm ammunition in a large capacity magazine.  Investigators seized a box of 100 rounds of 9mm ammunition from the rear passenger seat and a digital scale with marijuana residue from the center console.  Investigation determined that the firearm was reported stolen in Garner, North Carolina. Investigators determined that WATSON was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition due to his prior felony convictions.

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:  

This case is also 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.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina implements the PSN Program through its Take Back North Carolina Initiative.  This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Raleigh Police Department conducted the investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Daniel William Smith represented the government.

Updated January 10, 2020

Project Safe Neighborhoods