Jashawn Hunter Indicted for Firearms and Drug Trafficking Offenses

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated Jashawn Hunter, 34, of Hartford, Connecticut, was indicted on Thursday, February 24 by a federal grand jury with two charges of unlawful possession of firearms and one charge of possessing narcotics with intent to distribute them.  Hunter is currently detained on related state charges.  He has not yet been scheduled to appear in federal court.  The government has moved for Hunter’s continued detention pending trial.

According to court records, Hunter was arrested following an investigation into a brutal beating that occurred in St. Johnsbury in September 2021.  Hunter had been staying at the victim’s residence to conduct drug trafficking activities.  When Hunter learned that the victim no longer wanted Hunter to stay there, Hunter beat the victim with a revolver and with his fists.  The victim, who suffered a fractured cheekbone and received stitches for his injuries, ultimately escaped out a bathroom window.  Approximately a week later, law enforcement located Hunter, who threw a bag he had been carrying before he was apprehended.  Within the bag were approximately 4.7 grams of fentanyl, approximately 32 grams of cocaine base, a scale, and a Smith and Wesson .45 caliber handgun.  Law enforcement also recovered the gun Hunter is believed to have used in the beating: a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver.  Hunter is prohibited from possessing firearms due to his criminal history.

The United States Attorney’s Office emphasizes that an indictment contains allegations only and that Hunter remains presumed innocent until and unless he is convicted of a crime.  If convicted, Hunter faces up to 20 years imprisonment on the drug trafficking count and up to 10 years imprisonment on each firearms count.  Any actual sentence would be determined by the Court with reference to the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the United States Code.

United States Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the investigatory efforts of the Vermont State Police and St. Johnsbury Police Department and collaboration with the Caledonia County State’s Attorney’s Office in this matter.  “The United States Attorney’s Office remains focused on apprehending violent criminals and keeping our communities safe.  We will continue to collaborate with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to both address potential violence before it occurs and to hold individuals accountable for criminal conduct with firearms.”

The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eugenia A.P. Cowles and Nicole P. Cate.  Attorney information for defendant Hunter is not yet available.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime. See https://www.justice.gov/psn