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Press Release

U.S. Attorney's Office Highlights Efforts To Enhance Community Safety During The Summer Months Through Prosecutions, Partnerships And Prevention

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, U.S. Attorney Dena J. King announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s efforts to enhance safety across communities in Western North Carolina, especially during the summer months when violent crime historically increases. These efforts include federal prosecutions, collaborations with law enforcement and local communities, and proactive prevention programs aimed at strengthening public safety.

“We are closely monitoring a potential increase in criminal activity during the summer months,” said U.S. Attorney King. “My Office is fully committed to protecting our neighborhoods by identifying and prosecuting violent offenders, armed drug traffickers, and felons illegally possessing firearms, and leveraging the new criminal provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to pursue charges against straw gun purchasers and gun traffickers. Our dedication to community safety extends far beyond the courtroom. We are actively collaborating with our federal, state, local, and Tribal law enforcement partners to identify cases for federal prosecution, provide essential training, and utilize technology to combat violent crime. Furthermore, we are enhancing community involvement by partnering with organizations, youth groups, law enforcement, and other stakeholders to develop and support prevention programs that address the causes of violence.”

Prosecution Successes: Our prosecutions aim to enhance community safety, deliver justice for crime victims, and hold accountable those individuals responsible for perpetuating violence within our communities. The cases below were indicted this week and underscore our commitment to public safety:

U.S. v. Jose Maria Quijada-Ortega – On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Charlotte returned a criminal indictment, charging Jose Quijada-Ortega, 26, of Charlotte, with possession of a machinegun. According to allegations in the indictment, on October 6, 2023, Quijada-Ortega knowingly and willfully possessed a machinegun, that being a Glock, Model 23, .40 caliber pistol, with an affixed machinegun conversion device, commonly referred as a “Glock Switch.”

U.S. v. Allison et al. – The grand jury in Charlotte has also returned a criminal indictment against Desmoria Deoria Allison, 24, Mustafa Dajron Howie, 30, and Kinyona Jenae McClain, 22, all of Shelby, North Carolina, for federal firearms violations related to straw purchasing and illegal possession of firearms. McClain is charged with two counts of straw purchase of a firearm and making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. Allison is charged with two counts of making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm, and Howie is charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. The indictment alleges that, in October 2023, and again in February 2024, McClain straw purchased two firearms, on behalf of, or at the request or demand of Howie, knowing that Howie had previously been convicted of a crime. The indictment also alleges that, in March 2023, Allison made false and fictitious written statements in connection with the acquisition of two firearms from two licensed firearms dealers. The indictment further alleges that Howie illegally possessed the firearms that had been straw purchased by McClain and Allison.

U.S. v. Jadarius Connell Potts – Jadarius Connell Potts, 31, of Charlotte, was indicted with one count of dealing in firearms without a license and three counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. As alleged in the indictment, between August and September 2023, Potts engaged in the business of dealing in firearms without a license. The indictment alleges that Potts illegally possessed three firearms, an AM-15 rifle and two pistols, knowing that he had previously been convicted of at least one crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year.

U.S. v. Wade Bolton – A federal grand jury in Charlotte indicted Wade Bolton, 33, of Charlotte, of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. According to allegations in the indictment, in December 2023, Bolton allegedly possessed three firearms, knowing that he had previously been convicted of at least one crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year. It is further alleged that Bolton knowingly possessed with the intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine and possessed one or more firearms in furtherance of the drug trafficking activities.

U.S. v. Melvin Baylor – Melvin Bolton, 38, of Charlotte, was indicted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. As alleged in the indictment, in December 2023, Baylor illegally possessed two firearms, that being a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 Rifle, and an AK-47, along with all the associated magazines and ammunition, knowing that he had previously been convicted of at least one crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year.

In addition to this week’s indictments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the sentencing outcomes for additional defendants convicted in separate cases involving firearms offenses, drug trafficking, and armed robbery. The defendants received prison terms ranging from over 3 years to more than 34 years. Press releases with additional information on these cases can be found here.

Trainings and Technology-Driven Strategies: As part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office partners with our federal, state, local and Tribal law enforcement, prosecutors, community leaders,  and other stakeholders to identify the most pressing crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. An important component of PSN is providing training to law enforcement that can enhance investigations for federal prosecution.

Another important component of PSN is the use of technology and data-driven strategies to target crime hotspots and identify repeat offenders. For example, the Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) in Charlotte coordinates comprehensive tracing and ballistics analysis. The CGIC focuses exclusively on investigating and preventing gun violence in local communities, using eTrace systems and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, or NIBIN. NIBIN is an incredibly powerful tool used in investigations that involve firearms. Part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s role is to work with our federal, state, local, and Tribal partners to facilitate the submission of ballistics evidence to the NIBIN system on a timely basis that can assist with turning evidence into concrete leads.

Furthermore, U.S. Attorney King and Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Charlotte and Asheville Divisions continue to foster relationships by regularly meeting with local law enforcement and state and Tribal prosecutors to determine training needs and identify cases for federal prosecution. Also, as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s violent crime reduction strategy, members of the office meet with community leaders to discuss community concerns and develop collaborative strategies with stakeholders to improve public safety. 

Victim Support and Restorative Justice: Our commitment to supporting victims of violence remains one of our core missions. The U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Victim Witness Unit provides comprehensive victim support services and advocates for justice at every phase of the litigation process, ensuring that victims are afforded all the rights and protections they are entitled to under the law, and stay informed as their case progresses through the court system. In addition, members of the Victim Witness Unit meet regularly with community organizations, service providers, victim advocates, allied professionals, and law enforcement counterparts to ensure that everyone in the community knows and understands where and how crime victims and survivors can access the support and resources they need to promote healing and recovery.

Prevention Initiatives and Long-Term Commitment: In collaboration with law enforcement agencies, community organizations, nonprofit entities, and school districts, we have launched and strengthened several violence prevention initiatives. Just last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the Asheville Police Department (APD), hosted an outreach event at My Daddy Taught Me That (MDTMT), a youth development program in Asheville, designed to support young people through advocacy, education, and mentoring. During the event, U.S. Attorney King introduced newly appointed APD Police Chief Michael Lamb to a group of young males and he spoke about his background, shared his life experiences, and talked about APD’s community engagement goals under his leadership.

U.S. Attorney King continues to actively engage with local school districts in the Western District and the Qualla Boundary, home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to hold listening sessions and have impactful conversations with students on the causes and consequences of violence. Through these sessions, U.S. Attorney King educates students on how to effectively handle conflict resolution and emphasizes the importance of making positive choices. By fostering open dialogue, soliciting the students’ feedback, and providing insights into the legal consequences of violence, U.S. Attorney King aims to empower students with knowledge that can help prevent future incidents. Her proactive approach not only supports community safety but also encourages young people to become informed, responsible citizens committed to building safer neighborhoods for everyone.

In July, U.S. Attorney King will attend the National Recognition Week for the winners of the “Do the Write Thing” essay challenge in Washington, D.C. DtWT is organized by the National Campaign to Stop Violence and seeks to encourage middle school students to express the impact of violence in their lives through writing, and to empower students to become catalysts for positive change by sharing their ideas on ways to reduce youth violence. U.S. Attorney King serves as Chair of the DtWT Committee in Asheville. In this role, U.S. Attorney King accompanies National Student Ambassadors selected from Charlotte and Asheville schools to Washington, D.C., where students participate in planned events and engage in discussions on important topics such as the problem of youth violence.

Beyond the immediate summer months, federal prosecutors are dedicated to sustaining these efforts throughout the year, with the goal of putting in place lasting improvements in public safety and community well-being.

“We encourage everyone in our community to join us in these efforts,” said U.S. Attorney King. “Together, we can build safer, more resilient neighborhoods where every resident can thrive.”

U.S. Attorney King thanks all the law enforcement agencies involved in the aforementioned prosecutions and commends Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shavonn Bennette (U.S. v. Allison et al.), Brandon Boykin (U.S. v. Potts, U.S. v. Bolton, and U.S. v. Baylor), and Kenneth Smith (U.S. v. Quijada-Ortega) for handling the prosecution of these cases.

The defendants named in the indictments are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The U.S. v. Allison et al. case is being prosecuted under the new criminal provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Congress enacted and the President signed in June 2022. The Act is the first federal statute specifically designed to target the unlawful trafficking and straw-purchasing of firearms.

For more information on our initiatives visit the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website.


Updated June 20, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Community Outreach
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime