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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Armed Cocaine Dealer Is Sentenced To More Than 10 Years On Drug And Gun Charges

STATESVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced today that Ashonta Eswaien Hammond, 41, of Hickory, N.C., was sentenced to 120 months in prison on drug and gun charges. U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees also ordered Hammond to serve four years under court supervision, upon completion of his prison term.  Hammond previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office, and Chief Thurman Whisnant of the Hickory Police Department join U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

According to filed court documents and today’s plea hearing, from December 2016 to May 2018, while investigating a drug conspiracy operating in and around Hickory, N.C., law enforcement identified Hammond as a cocaine and crack cocaine dealer in the area.  Court records show that over the course of the investigation, Hammond engaged in multiple drug sales, while knowingly and unlawfully possessing a firearm.  Hammond’s criminal history dates back more than two decades, and includes a federal drug conspiracy conviction, for which he was sentenced to 72 months in prison, and state convictions for larceny, assault on a female, domestic violence, and multiple traffic violations, among others. 

Hammond is currently in federal custody.  He will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the DEA and the Hickory Police Department for their investigation of the case.

This case has been brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address gun crime, especially felons illegally possessing firearms and ammunition and violent and drug crimes that involve the use of firearms.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sanjeev Bhasker, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated December 4, 2018