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Press Release

Philadelphia Man Arrested on Murder-For-Hire Charges; Attempted Homicide in Southwest Philadelphia Thwarted

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
The arrest was the direct result of the federal ‘All Hands On Deck’ initiative to reduce violent crime in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Darnell Jackson, a/k/a “Major Change,” 47, of Philadelphia, PA, was arrested and charged by Criminal Complaint on federal charges of murder-for-hire and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. In a news conference outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia alongside Assistant Special Agent-In-Charge for FBI Philadelphia’s Violent Crime Branch James Christie and Philadelphia Police Chief of Investigations Chief Inspector Frank Vanore, Acting U.S. Attorney Williams discussed the charges and the investigation leading to the defendant’s arrest as part of the federal effort to reduce violent crime in Philadelphia known as ‘All Hands On Deck.’

According to publicly filed court documents unsealed today, the defendant allegedly orchestrated a murder-for-hire plot which stemmed from an ongoing state drug trafficking investigation. One week ago on Monday, July 19, 2021, and in the days immediately following, Jackson allegedly communicated with an individual via cell phone calls and text messages in an effort to arrange the killing of a different individual (the intended victim), sending a photo of the intended victim and indicating that he was willing to pay $5,000 to someone to commit the murder. Jackson also allegedly mentioned to the individual that he was interested in locating the close friends of the intended victim so that they could be harmed as well. Once the individual reported to the defendant that he had located the intended victim, they allegedly agreed that the killing would occur on the evening of Wednesday, July 21st.

That same evening, the individual called Jackson to report that the intended victim had been killed, but this was actually false. In response, the defendant allegedly replied that he was on his way to meet the individual in order to pay him for his services. A few minutes later, Jackson was stopped by law enforcement while driving a vehicle in the vicinity of 65th Street & Guyer Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia, and he was allegedly found in possession of a Glock-style Personally Manufactured Firearm (PMF or ‘ghost gun’) loaded with 16 live rounds of ammunition, and nowhere near the amount of $5,000. The defendant was immediately arrested and taken into custody pursuant to the Criminal Complaint; he made his initial appearance in federal court on Friday, July 23, and will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Perkin for a detention hearing on Tuesday, August 3.

“It is no stretch of the imagination to conclude that law enforcement thwarted multiple alleged attempted murders by the defendant last week,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “But there are hundreds of families in this city for whom this news means very little, because their loved ones were already gunned down this year. I want to thank the dedicated men and women of the FBI and Philadelphia Police Department who were responsible for taking Jackson off the streets, and I want to assure the public that we will continue to do all we can to fight the surge of violence plaguing our city.”

“When our Safe Streets Gang Task Force received information on an alleged murder for hire last week, we immediately determined this was truly a life-threatening situation,” said James E. Christie, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Agents and task force officers worked quickly, taking all necessary steps to disrupt this deadly plot. As a result, the intended victim is safe, the alleged orchestrator is behind bars, and a ghost gun is off the street. We refuse to cede this city to criminals who think solving a problem means pulling a trigger, who hold blocks and entire neighborhoods hostage to their violence. The ‘All Hands on Deck’ initiative continues to produce results and you’ll be seeing more of those in the weeks and months to come.”

“Every day, members of law enforcement agencies at all levels work tirelessly to prevent violent events from occurring in our city,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “The PPD and our partner agencies recognize the gravity of Philadelphia’s plight. People who commit serious crimes must face serious consequences, and arrests like the one announced today are the very reason why this joint initiative was created. I want to thank the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for pledging their support to this effort and ultimately contributing to the safety and well-being of those who live, work, and visit this beautiful city.”

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison (10 years for each charge).

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Philadelphia Field Office and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Ashenfelter.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


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Updated July 26, 2021

Violent Crime