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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Essex County Man Indicted for Illegally Possessing Firearm and Ammunition and for Possessing with Intent to Distribute Heroin

NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man was indicted today on charges stemming from illegally possessing ammunition in connection with two shootings, illegally possessing a handgun and possessing heroin with the intent to distribute, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Antoine Hawkins, 31, of Newark, is charged with two counts of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, one count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He will be arraigned on a date to be determined.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Aug. 18, 2020, video surveillance footage showed Hawkins as he fired a gun on a Newark street, striking a victim, who survived. Hawkins was also identified as the perpetrator of another shooting in Newark on Aug. 13, 2020, and cartridge casings from the locations of both shootings are a ballistics match.

On Sept. 16, 2020, law enforcement officers conducted a surveillance operation in connection with the Aug. 18, 2020, shooting. During the surveillance operation, a law enforcement officer approached Hawkins and observed what appeared to be the imprint of a firearm on Hawkins’s jacket. The law enforcement officer frisked Hawkins and located and seized a 9mm Springfield Armory XDM pistol, which was loaded with 19 rounds of ammunition.

After Hawkins was arrested for possessing the pistol and the ammunition, law enforcement executed a search warrant inside of Hawkins’s residence and found 626 glassine envelopes containing suspected heroin and three 9mm magazines.

The firearm and ammunition offenses each carry maximum potential penalties of 10 years in prison and fines of $250,000. The count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other sentence Hawkins receives, and a maximum potential penalty of life in prison. The narcotics offense carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison, and a fine of $2 million.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II; members of the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Director Brian O’Hara; members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; and special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina, with the investigation leading to the charges.

This investigation is part of the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) in Newark. The Newark VCI was formed in August 2017 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the City of Newark’s Department of Public Safety for the sole purpose of combatting violent crime in and around the Newark. As part of this partnership, federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate and pool resources to prosecute violent offenders who endanger the safety of the community. The VCI includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals, the Newark Department of Public Safety, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, New Jersey State Parole Board, New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, and New Jersey Department of Corrections.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Levin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Violent Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
21-149
Updated April 21, 2021