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Press Release

Convicted Felon Sentenced for Narcotics Trafficking and Manufacturing “Ghost Guns”

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A District Heights, Maryland man was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for distributing heroin and cocaine, and for his involvement in manufacturing untraceable “ghost guns” from the basement of his home.

“In addition to selling dangerous narcotics in our communities, the defendant was involved in buying, assembling, and selling ‘ghost guns’ that lack serial numbers,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “These unmarked and often untraceable firearms are frequently assembled from kits that are sold without background checks, making them more attractive to individuals who are prohibited from possessing them. This prosecution is another example of how we work closely with our partner agencies to mitigate public safety threats, including illegal narcotics and firearms trafficking.”

According to court documents, Keith Robert Marshall, 34, was a drug dealer who sold heroin and cocaine in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including the Eastern District of Virginia. He sold heroin at a cost of $2,800 per ounce; a typical user amount of heroin is less than a gram. Over the course of several months in 2019, Marshall sold multiple ounces of heroin, as well as some cocaine, to an undercover officer.

“Marshall’s sentencing is an example of the exceptional collaboration and diligent work of our law enforcement and task force partners toward our shared goal of removing those who are the purveyors of instruments like ghost guns and illicit narcotics which often result in irreparable damage to our communities,” said Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “Ghost guns, which are privately manufactured, are untraceable and unserialized firearms that when in the hands of criminals, present a serious danger to us all. The FBI remains steadfast in identifying and aggressively investigating those criminals who have a blatant disregard for the harm they are causing in communities around the country.”

The investigation into Marshall revealed that he had been frequenting a firearms store in Virginia. There, Marshall, a previously convicted felon, had been purchasing AR-15 pistol kits and Polymer 80 kits to make AR-15 pistols and Glock-style pistols. These kits are used to make guns without serial numbers and may be legally sold to anyone, regardless of whether they are prohibited from possessing firearms.

In December 2020, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Marshall’s residence in Maryland. There, agents recovered a fully functional .40-caliber Polymer 80 Glock-style firearm with a 50-round agazine, as well as an AR-15 rifle. Agents also seized another five high-capacity magazines, various other gun magazines, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition for both rifles and pistols. Agents additionally discovered that Marshall’s workspace, tools, and parts were dedicated to turning the gun kits into the fully functional weapons found in his residence.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Peter Newsham, Chief of Prince William County Police; and Malik Aziz, Chief of Prince George’s County Police, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh prosecuted the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This prosecution is also part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation Operation Optima Prime. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

This case was investigated by the FBI WFO’s Northern Virginia Safe Streets/HIDTA task force, which is composed of FBI agents and agents from HSI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and task force officers from Northern Virginia counties. The task force is charged with investigating and disrupting the most egregious and violent gang and narcotics distributors operating in Northern Virginia.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:21-cr-119.

Updated September 24, 2021

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses