Columbia Gang Member Pleads to Federal Firearm Charge
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated that Shamari Delresse Jones, a/k/a “Amari,” age 33, of Columbia, plead guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e). United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis, of Columbia, accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the United States Probation Office.
Evidence presented in court established that on the evening of July 29, 2017, officers with the Columbia Police Department were on routine patrol on West Beltline Boulevard and observed Jones driving and knew that his driver’s license was under suspension. After confirming that Jones’ license was suspended and noticing that the license plate on the vehicle came back to a completely different vehicle, officers initiated a traffic stop. Jones, the driver, and the passenger both exited the vehicle and Jones was observed with a baggie in his hands. Jones fled on foot as the officers approached, but was apprehended and the baggie was found to contain rounds of .44 caliber ammunition. While the officers were pursuing Jones, the passenger left in the vehicle. Jones was arrested on state charges. The following day, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office responded to Jones’ mother’s home in Heath Springs in reference to a shooting. No one was injured, but while at the home, a number of firearms and rounds of ammunition were recovered by law enforcement, including a Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle with an extended magazine and two 12 gauge shotguns. The investigation revealed that upon Jones’ arrest for being in possession of the ammunition, several other individuals moved the firearms from Jones’ Columbia home to his mother’s home in an effort to keep law enforcement from finding the firearms. The investigation also showed that in October 2015, Jones, a known gang member, had attended an offender notification meeting in which he, and others, were advised by law enforcement officials that should they be found in possession of firearms and ammunition, their case would be considered for federal prosecution in light of their extensive prior record.
Jones is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon his prior separate South Carolina state convictions for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (2004), distribution of crack cocaine (2009), possession of cocaine (2009), assault with intent to kill (2 counts)(2009), unlawful carrying of a firearm (2009), assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (2006), possession of cocaine (2010), and possession with intent to distribute marijuana (2015).
Jones faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, and 3 years of supervised release on the felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition charge. However, if he is deemed an armed career criminal in light of his prior convictions, he would face a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years with a maximum of life, a fine of $250,000, and 5 years of supervised release on the firearm charge.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Columbia Police Department, and the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office and was prosecuted as part of Project CeaseFire, a joint federal, state and local initiative focused upon aggressively prosecuting firearm cases in an effort to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer. Project CeaseFire is South Carolina’s implementation of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a crime reduction strategy originally launched in 2001. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority and reinstituted PSN nationwide. Assistant United States Attorney Stacey D. Haynes of the Columbia office handled the case.