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Press Release

Salisbury Felon Facing Federal Charges for Gun Trafficking and for Illegal Possession of Ammunition

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

Baltimore, Maryland – A criminal complaint has been filed charging Jeffrey Dean Lecates, age 52, of Salisbury, Maryland, on the federal charges of being a felon in possession of ammunition and of dealing of firearms without a license.  Lecates was arrested and had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court on March 24, 2021.  He was ordered to be detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for March 31, 2021.

The criminal complaint was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Division; and Wicomico County Sheriff Michael A. Lewis.                       

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, in December 2020, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office officers (WCSO) received information that Lecates was manufacturing and selling firearms.

Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Lecates’ home on February 23, 2021 and seized a number of items, including: a 45 round capacity black PMAG magazine; numerous rounds of live ammunition and spent shell casings; a chore boy; gun rails and other gun parts; tools; drug paraphernalia; a book titled “How to Build Military Grade Suppressors”; and a black book bag containing four AR-15 lower receivers—including one with drilled holes ready to be assembled—and tools used to assemble firearms, gun cleaner, and five paper shooting targets.

According to the affidavit, a forensic analysis of Lecates’ cell phone allegedly revealed text messages indicating that Lecates was building and illegally selling/transferring firearms and ammunition. Photographs of weapons were also allegedly located on Lecates’ phone, including at least 12 outgoing photos of firearms.  What appear to be suppressers (also known as “silencers”) are attached to the firearms in some photos. Within other text messages, Leactes allegedly acknowledged that he was prohibited from possessing and selling firearms.

If convicted, Lecates faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for being a felon possession of firearm and a maximum of five years in federal prison for unlicensed selling of firearms.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

This case is 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.  Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) 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.

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the DEA, ATF, and the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Lenzner thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Gallena and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Wilkinson, who are prosecuting the case.

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated March 26, 2021

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