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Press Release

Southwest Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Gun Store Thefts

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia
Stolen Firearms were Sold, Distributed Throughout the Community

ALBANY, Ga. –  A Southwest Georgia resident has admitted that he broke into two Cordele, Georgia, gun stores, stealing multiple firearms and weapons, then selling or distributing the firearms in the community.

Demetri Lott, 44, of Ashburn, Georgia, pleaded guilty to two counts theft of a firearm from a licensed dealer before U.S. District Judge Leslie Gardner on Feb.17. Lott faces a maximum ten years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine as well as the possibility of restitution to the victim. Sentencing will occur within 90 days.

“Under Project Safe Neighborhoods, law enforcement across the Middle District of Georgia is working collectively to prevent the trafficking of firearms within our communities and hold accountable those who steal and possess guns illegally,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Reducing violent crime is a top priority for the entire Middle Georgia community, and one part of this strategy is to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to maximize every resource at our disposal to achieve this common goal.”

“The theft of firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer and their diversion into the illegal firearms market is a crime that affects us all,” said ATF Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jason Stricklin. “FFL burglaries are a top priority for ATF and we will relentlessly pursue those responsible for the theft and diversion of firearms.”

“I am grateful for the cooperation between local, state, and federal agencies and the citizens of Crisp County. The anonymous tip we received was crucial in locating Lott and taking him into custody. I encourage all citizens, if they see something, to say something. We all play a role in keeping our community safe,” said Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock.

According to court documents, Lott broke into Wells Hardware & Supply in Cordele, Georgia, on Nov. 12, 2020, accessing the store through the roof. Lott stole 11 firearms. While the case was under investigation, Lott burglarized another gun store in Cordele, Evans Outdoors, on Jan. 2, 2021. A rifle was stolen as well as trail cameras, scopes and several boxes of ammunition. A concerned citizen contacted the Sheriff’s Office soon after the theft to report information about the stolen rifle. A second anonymous tip to the Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 15 helped law enforcement locate Lott. Lott was arrested at a Cordele residence, hiding inside the attic crawl space. Lott told agents he was responsible for breaking into and stealing firearms from both businesses. He also admitted to selling the stolen firearms from Wells Hardware & Supply for cash and drugs, later returning to the person’s home that same day to find that all of the firearms had been distributed to other people. Lott said he gave the Evans Outdoors rifle to an acquaintance. Lott has multiple prior felony convictions, including convictions for aggravated battery, robbery and burglary.

These cases are being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, 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.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office and the Cordele Police Department investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melody Ellis is prosecuting the case.

Updated February 18, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses