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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 20, 2020

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Houston Man in Austin Carjacking

In Austin this week, a federal magistrate judge unsealed a four-count indictment against a 22-year-old Houston man for a carjacking in Southwest Austin in January 2020, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski, Houston Division.   

The federal grand jury indictment, returned in Austin on March 3, 2020, charges Darrell Morgan Watts, Jr., with one count of carjacking, one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, one count of discharging a firearm with a silencer during and in relation to a crime of violence, and one count of possession of an unregistered silencer.

The indictment alleges that in Austin on January 30, 2020, Watts fired shots from a .22 caliber pistol with a silencer in an effort to steal a Ford Mustang from its owner.  As for his convicted felon status, Watts was convicted of felony theft in Harris County, TX, in 2016, for which he received a three-year-prison sentence.

Upon convictions, Watts faces up to 15 years in federal prison for the carjacking charge; up to ten years in federal prison for the felon-in-possession charge; up to ten years in federal prison for possession of an unregistered silencer; and, a minimum of 30 years in federal prison for using and carrying a firearm with a silencer during and in relation to a federal crime of violence.

Watts, who was arrested in San Antonio on February 5, 2020, remains in federal custody.

The ATF and the Austin Police Department investigated this case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Buie is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Component(s): 
Updated March 20, 2020