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Press Release

Operation Steel Penguin nets scores of arrests and seized firearms as part of focused enforcement effort targeting firearms violence in Youngstown

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

Scores of suspected criminals were arrested and dozens of firearms seized as part of “Operation Steel Penguin,” which targeted people believed to illegally possess firearms.

It is a joint operation between the Youngstown Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, U.S. Attorney’s Office and Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office.

To date, 33 firearms were seized. Four people have been indicted in federal court. Additional people have been charged in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas. Several investigations are ongoing and more indictments are expected.

“These cases involve people who are not allowed to have firearms because of past crimes,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “We will continue to work with police and federal agencies through Project Safe Neighborhoods to make Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley safer.”

Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees said: “We appreciate the U.S. Attorney’s office being responsive to the spike in murders we experienced the end of last year and convening a meeting in Youngstown to seek solutions. The result of that meeting being a focused and well-executed effort between federal, state and local agencies and was the key to the success of this program.”

“ATF’s primary mission is reducing violent gun crime in our country,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Jonathan McPherson.  “We are committed to working with our partners, including the Youngstown Police Department, the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, to make the Mahoning Valley safer for all of our residents.”

“Convicted felons need to understand they will go back to prison if they carry a gun in Mahoning County,” Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains said. “This Office will continue to cooperate with federal authorities and target these violent people who threaten our community.”

“The APA would like to recognize the collaborative effort put together throughout this operation,” stated Alice M. Barr, Regional Administrator, Ohio Adult Parole Authority.  “The success is a testament to the hard-working men and women in all departments represented.  The efforts of those who worked this operation should not go unnoticed.  We must continue working to make Ohio safer. It is paramount to ensure those who carry guns illegally understand it is not acceptable behavior.”

Members of the Youngstown Police Department, ATF and Ohio Adult Parole Authority gathered and shared intelligence to identify people considered to be at high risk to commit crime with firearms, particularly people on parole from state prison. This, combined with increased patrols, resulted in an increase in arrests and firearms seizures and a decrease in shootings compared to the same time last year.

Shawn Jones, 29, of Youngstown, was charged with a being a felon in possession of firearms. Jones possessed a .45-caliber pistol and ammunition on March 9, despite a previous state conviction for attempted murder and previous federal conviction for racketeering, according to court documents.

Jones was one of the founders of the LSP street gang in Youngstown, according to court records.

Barry Wallace II, 25, of Youngstown, was charged with a being a felon in possession of firearms. Wallace possessed a Ruger 9 mm pistol and ammunition on March 17, despite a previous convictions for possession of heroin and possession of cocaine, according to the indictment.

Kendal Dotson, 33, of Youngstown, was charged with a being a felon in possession of firearms. Dotson possessed a Star .40-caliber pistol and ammunition on March 28, despite a previous convictions for possession of heroin and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine, according to the indictment.

Airik Talbott, 30, of Campbell, was charged with a being a felon in possession of firearms. Talbott possessed a Glock .40-caliber pistol and ammunition on March 24, despite a previous convictions for aggravated robbery and escape, according to the indictment.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal record, the defendants’ role in the offenses and the characteristics of the violations.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


Mike Tobin

Updated June 24, 2019

Firearms Offenses