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Press Release

Dubuque Drug User Sentenced To Fifteen Months in Federal Prison for Unlawfully Possessing a Gun

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Stole the Gun from a Family Member

A man who illegally possessed a gun while a methamphetamine user was sentenced April 21, 2020, to fifteen months in federal prison. 

Darien Henkel, age 23, from Dubuque, Iowa, received the prison term after a guilty plea to illegally possessing a firearm as a drug user.  Statements at sentencing showed that authorities arrested Henkel the same day Henkel stole a gun from a family member.  The gun was in Henkel’s pants when he was arrested.  Henkel also admitted to regular methamphetamine use.          

Henkel was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge C.J. Williams.  Henkel was sentenced to fifteen months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  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.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.  For more information about Project Guardian, please see /media/1122011/download?inline.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jacob Schunk and investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Dubuque Police Department. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 19-CR-1034-CJW.

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Updated April 22, 2020

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses