CHICAGO — A federal grand jury has indicted a Chicago man for allegedly trafficking fentanyl-laced heroin and illegally possessing a loaded assault rifle while on parole from a previous drug conviction.
MITCHELL DWAYNE SIMMONS, 48, is charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, one count of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and one count of illegally possessing firearms as a previously convicted felon, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday in federal court in Chicago. The indictment alleges that Simmons possessed the assault rifle and a handgun, both of which were loaded, as well as heroin, fentanyl-laced heroin, and marijuana, on Dec. 28, 2019, in Chicago. At the time, Simmons was on court-supervised release after recently completing a prison sentence for a federal drug conviction in the Central District of Illinois.
Simmons was arrested Thursday on the new charges and was arraigned later that day in federal court in Chicago. He pleaded not guilty to all charges in the indictment. A detention hearing via videoconference is set for May 18, 2020, at 10:30 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Gary S. Feinerman.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Kristen deTineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Saurish Appleby-Bhattacharjee.
Holding gun offenders accountable through federal prosecution is a centerpiece of Project Guardian and Project Safe Neighborhoods – the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategies. Project Guardian focuses specifically on investigating, prosecuting, and preventing gun crimes, and it emphasizes the importance of using modern technologies to promote gun crime intelligence. In the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney Lausch and law enforcement partners have deployed the Guardian and PSN programs to attack a broad range of violent crime issues facing the district, including by prosecuting individuals who illegally possess firearms.
Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in federal prison and a mandatory minimum of five years, which must be served consecutively to the sentence for the underlying drug trafficking offense. Possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum of 40 years. Illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon carries a maximum sentence of ten years in federal prison. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.