DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Jersey

For Immediate Release

Friday, May 14, 2021
Rachael A. Honig
, United States Attorney

Essex County Man Indicted for Possessing Semi-Automatic Rifle and a Large Quantity of Oxycodone

NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man was indicted for possessing a semi-automatic rifle loaded with a high-capacity magazine, several rounds of ammunition, and a large quantity of oxycodone, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced today.

Shaquille Hankerson, aka “Jaquil L. Tukes,” 30, of Newark, is charged with one count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, one count of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He will be arraigned on a date to be determined.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Sept. 22, 2020, law enforcement officers were conducting patrol when they observed Hankerson, who appeared to be sleeping in the driver’s seat of a running vehicle. As the officers approached Hankerson, he jumped up in his seat and began shuffling around the front center area of the vehicle. The officers then observed a prescription pill bottle with no label containing an unknown substance in the front center cup holder. The officers searched the vehicle and recovered the following: one .223 caliber Bushmaster Carbon-15 semi-automatic rifle loaded with a high capacity magazine that contained 26 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition; one magazine loaded with 10 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition; 317 oxycodone pills; and one bag containing marijuana. The officers also recovered $542.75 from Hankerson.

The narcotics offense carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $1 million. The count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. The count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, and a maximum potential penalty of life in prison. Each firearm count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

This case is a 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 (ATF) 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 ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents and task force officers of the ATF, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Craig B. Kailimai, Newark Field Division; and members of the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Director Brian O’Hara, with the investigation leading to the charges and arrest.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey E. Zyriek Enriquez of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Violent Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations against the defendant are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Newark Field Division