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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
For Immediate Release
Monday, March 18, 2024

New Orleans Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Gun and Drug Offenses

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that JUAN MATTHEWS, age 22, of New Orleans, pled guilty on March 13, 2024, to Counts 3 through 5 of an indictment charging him with possession with the intent to distribute marijuana and tapentadol, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sections 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C) (Count 3); possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 924(C)(1)(a)(i) (Count 4); and possession of a machine gun, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 922(o) and 924(a)(2) (Count 5).

As to Count 3, MATTHEWS faces up to twenty years imprisonment , up to a $1,000,000 fine, and at least 3 years of supervised release. As to Count 4, MATTHEWS faces between five years up to life imprisonment, which must run consecutive to any other sentence, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to 5 years of supervised release. As to Count 5, MATTHEWS faces up to ten years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to 3 years of supervised release. As to each charged count, MATTHEWS also faces payment of a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00. MATTHEWS is set for sentencing on June 26, 2024.

According to court documents, on May 18, 2023, members of the New Orleans Police Department observed a black Audi sport utility vehicle (SUV) matching the description of a vehicle used in a shooting. Officers pursued the SUV and observed three black males, including MATTHEWS, abandon the SUV and flee, after which officers successfully apprehended MATTHEWS. During the pursuit of MATTHEWS, officers saw him throw down a Glock with a machinegun conversion device, making it, functionally, a machine gun. Upon apprehension, MATTHEWS was in possession of marijuana, tapentadol, and drug paraphernalia.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the New Orleans Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Dawkins of the Violent Crime Unit is in charge of the prosecution.

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