Mexican Man Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Return to the United States After Removal and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person
Jackson, Miss. – Wilmer Ham a/k/a Jose Lopez, 34, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves to 60 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for being a felon in possession of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and FBI Special Agent in Charge Michelle A. Sutphin. Ham was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine.
On September 14, 2018, a Jackson Police officer responded to a call at Tony’s Food Mart on Highway 80 in Jackson. Upon arrival, the officer noticed the store clerk frantically waving his hands in an attempt to get the officer’s attention from inside the store. Upon entering, the officer noticed the store was in disarray and a male, later identified as Wilmer Ham, was standing beside the fountain drinks. The officer attempted to speak with Ham, but his behavior led the officer to call for backup. Before assistance could arrive, Ham rushed the officer in an attempt to exit. As the officer tried to stop Ham, they struggled and a firearm fell from Ham’s pocket. The firearm was later determined to be a Ruger, model LCP, .380 caliber pistol. After no assistance arrived, the officer disengaged Ham and Ham left the scene.
Later that day, Jackson Police officers again responded to Tony’s Food Mart. Upon arrival, officers observed the front door partially open with a male, later determined to be Wilmer Ham, in the doorway holding the door open with his foot. Both the officer who responded to the earlier call and the store clerk confirmed that Ham was the same individual from that morning. Surveillance video captured Ham inside the store with a handgun and then tossing the handgun outside the door. The gun was determined to be a Taurus, model PT738 TCP, .380 caliber pistol. An investigation revealed that Ham had two previous convictions in Bronx County Criminal Court for possession of a loaded firearm and for criminal sale of a controlled substance.
In August 2019, Ham was charged in a federal criminal indictment with two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He pled guilty before Judge Reeves on November 4, 2019.
On January 15, 2020, the defendant’s wife, Tonya Ham, was charged in a federal superseding indictment with transferring the Taurus pistol to Wilmer Ham on the day in question. The public is reminded that a criminal indictment is a formal charge against a defendant, and is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Jackson Police Department investigated the case. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Keesha Middleton.
This case is part of Project EJECT, an initiative by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi under the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) and Project Guardian. EJECT is a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to fighting and reducing violent crime through prosecution, prevention, re-entry and awareness. EJECT stands for “Empower Justice Expel Crime Together.” PSN is bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.