CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, announced today the return of federal indictments against 17 individuals charged with federal firearms violations.
The indictments are the result of Project Guardian, the Justice Department’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by Attorney General William P. Barr in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence, and enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes. The initiative also improves information sharing, and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.
“Gun violence remains a pervasive problem in communities across this district and our nation,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “The indictments announced today are a testament to our ongoing coordination with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners and state prosecutors, and our shared commitment to reduce gun violence, remove firearms from the hands of felons, and bring to justice those who violate gun laws.”
“ATF has a long-standing commitment with our law enforcement partners to tackle gun violence and violent crimes in our communities,” said Vince Pallozzi, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “Removing violent criminals from our neighborhoods and recovering the firearms used in their crimes is a critical step toward stronger and safer neighborhoods.”
“We see every day how gun violence can cause heartache and destroy lives. Thanks to our partner agencies, the work done here is a step in the right direction to making communities safer and holding individuals accountable for their actions,” said Robert Schurmeier, Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
“Catawba County is a safer place today thanks to the incredible success of our local, state and federal partnership. The collaboration and teamwork demonstrated in this operation is some of the finest I have witnessed. I’m proud to have my office associated with these law enforcement professionals,” said Sheriff Don Brown, of the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.
“There is no doubt that these arrests will make our communities safer,” said Chief Thurman Whisnant of the Hickory Police Department. In Hickory, we very much appreciate the continued collaboration and cooperation among our local, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors who are all committed to pursuing violent offenders that put our communities at risk.”
“The Long View Police department has a solid relationship with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners. We are committed to disrupting criminal activity and keeping our communities safe. I am extremely proud of the law enforcement partnership and the outcome of this operation,” said Chief T.J. Bates of the Long View Police Department.
The 17 individuals indicted for firearms violations are:
- Trevin Ali Brown, 22, of Hickory, N.C.
- Chaetez Sean Clayton, 30, of Hickory, N.C.
- Shawn Malcolm Davis, 30, of Catawba, N.C.
- Donte Rassan Gore, 28, Hickory, NC.
- Daquan Lashawn Ikard, 30, of Hickory, N.C.
- Martavious Steven Isbell, 26, of Granite Falls, N.C.
- Gevon Marquise King, 36, of Hickory, N.C.
- Line Germaine Linebarger, 33, of Hickory, N.C.
- Robbie Octavion Little, 28, of Hickory, N.C.
- Curese Devin McIlwain, 35, of Hickory, N.C.
- Stanley Earl Reed, 29, of Hickory, N.C.
- Meguel Greylen Robinson, 25, of Hickory, N.C.
- Craig Anthony Ruff, 25, of Newton, N.C.
- Nicholas Anthony Santellan, 37, of Hickory, N.C.
- Michael Dwane Williams, 23, or Hickory, N.C.
- Wilburn Johnathan Wilson, 25, of Hickory, N.C.
- Tou Yang, 38, of Hickory, N.C.
As a result of the initiative, law enforcement have recovered more than 100 firearms, some o which were stolen, unregistered, or used in the commission of other violent crimes, ammunition, and a silencer, among other items. The defendants had their first court appearance in federal court in Charlotte today. Davis, Gore, McIlwain Robinson, Santellan, Wilson and Yang are also facing drug trafficking charges.
The charges in the indictments are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked Scott Reilly, District Attorney for Caldwell, Burke and Catawba Counties. “Our partnership and collaboration with state prosecutors is a vital factor in the success of federal crime reduction initiatives like Project Guardian. I want to thank District Attorney Reilly for his office’s continued assistance and coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and I look forward to our continued joint efforts to increase safety in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Murray.
The United States Attorney’s Office is prosecuting these cases with support from the following Project Guardian partners: the ATF, the SBI, the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, the Hickory Police Department, and the Long View Police Department. The U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office also assisted with the arrests.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lambert Guinn, Christopher Hess and Sanjeev Bhasker, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, are handling the prosecutions.
For more information about Project Guardian, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian