DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of South Dakota

For Immediate Release

Friday, May 14, 2021
Dennis R. Holmes
, United States Attorney

Aberdeen Man Sentenced for Illegal Possession of Firearm

Acting United States Attorney Dennis R. Holmes announced that an Aberdeen, South Dakota, man convicted of Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person was sentenced on May 10, 2021, by U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann.

Juan Smith, age 28, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. He was also ordered to forfeit a .380 caliber pistol, magazine clips, and .380 caliber ammunition.

The conviction stems from Smith, a previously convicted felon who is prohibited from possessing firearms, knowingly possessing a Sturm, Ruger & Company Incorporated .380 caliber pistol in March 2020 in Aberdeen. At the time, Smith possessed the firearm, three pistol magazines, and some .380 caliber ammunition at his residence in Brown County when law enforcement officers conducted a state probation search because Smith had been using drugs.

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. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its 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 local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see:

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Aberdeen Police Department, and the Brown County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Elmore prosecuted the case.

Smith was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

St. Paul Field Division