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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 1, 2021

Malden Man Arrested on Drug and Firearms Charges Involving Multiple Machine Guns

Defendant was on probation and pretrial release on state drug trafficking charges while allegedly conspiring to distribute drugs and brandishing a firearm

BOSTON – A Malden man was charged today in connection with his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy in which he allegedly possessed over 150 grams of cocaine base and other controlled substances and conspired to possess firearms.

Phillips Charles, a/k/a “PHON C,” 22, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine base and one count of conspiracy to possess, use and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy. Charles is currently in state custody and will make an initial appearance in federal court before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell at a later date. 

As alleged in the charging documents, while Charles was on pretrial release from Malden District Court and Middlesex Superior Court, and later serving a probation sentence, he continued to conspire with others to distribute large quantities of controlled substances. Members of the conspiracy also possessed numerous firearms, including multiple firearms with “selector switches” that convert firearms into machine guns, allegedly in order to protect the drug trafficking operation and target rival gang members. In an August 2020 music video posted on YouTube, Charles can be observed holding a firearm and pointing it at the camera, and displaying a large amount of cash.

Charles was on pretrial release when he was arrested and charged in state court with possessing a firearm in December 2020.

The charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. The charge of conspiring to possess, use and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to life in prison because a machine gun was involved in the offense, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Kelly D. Brady, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Boston Field Division; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office and the Boston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip A. Mallard and Sarah Hoefle of Mendell’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit are prosecuting the case.

The operation was conducted by a multi-agency task force through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. More information on the OCDETF program is available here: https://www.justice.gov/ocdetf/about-ocdetf.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Updated March 1, 2021