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Press Release

Man Sentenced to Eleven Years for Illegally Possessing Firearm While Trafficking Fentanyl in Chicago

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

CHICAGO — A man has been sentenced to eleven years in federal prison for illegally possessing a loaded handgun while trafficking fentanyl and cocaine in Chicago.

THOMAS L. GATES illegally possessed the gun and drugs on the evening of Nov. 16, 2021, in the Old Town neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side.  Chicago Police officers detained Gates in the 1500 block of North Sedgwick Avenue after observing him display the firearm to another individual.  The officers then discovered approximately 45 small, packaged baggies of fentanyl and cocaine in Gates’s jacket pocket.

Gates had previously been convicted of multiple felonies and was not lawfully allowed to possess a firearm.

Gates, 43, of Chicago, pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal drug and firearm charges.  U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang imposed the sentence Tuesday after a hearing in federal court in Chicago.

The sentence was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Christopher Amon, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Larry Snelling, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.  Valuable assistance was provided by the FBI, DEA, and Illinois State Police.

“Possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking are extremely serious offenses,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth E. Palmer argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “Defendant posed a severe threat to the community, which is already plagued by gun violence, when he carried a loaded semi-automatic weapon on a public street to protect his drug distributions.”

Updated December 7, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime