For Immediate Release
Memphis Man Sentenced to 5 Years for Illegally Possessing a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Distribution
Memphis, TN – Jason Smith, 36, has been sentenced to 60 months in federal prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug distribution. D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney announced the sentence today.
According to information presented in court, on November 5, 2017, homicide officers followed up on a Crime Stoppers tip regarding a Memphis Police Department homicide investigation involving Jason Smith. Officers went to a residence on Douglas Avenue where they saw Smith standing by and bending down near the rear passenger side of a silver Volvo. Smith then walked away from the officers who saw him toss something small behind a nearby house. Officers detained Smith and recovered a gun from under the vehicle where they had observed him bend down. A bag with 5.6 grams of crack was located which Smith had thrown and large amounts of cash from his pockets. Smith told officers that the gun belonged to his girlfriend but she was not there, and that he threw marijuana, not crack.
Later, homicide officers interviewed Smith’s girlfriend who said the gun was hers, but struggled to describe the weapon. The girlfriend could not tell officers the type or caliber of gun. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) conducted an interstate nexus search on the multi-caliber Diamondback pistol and verified that the firearm was manufactured outside of the State of Tennessee.
Prior to the November 5, 2017 arrest, the defendant had been convicted of felony drug and gun offenses. As a result, he is prohibited by federal law from possession of firearms or ammunition. On September 26, 2019, a federal grand jury in Memphis indicted Smith for possession for a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession of a firearm after previously being convicted of a felony; and possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute.
On July 28, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Sheryl H. Lipman sentenced Smith to 60 months in federal prison followed by 3 years supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "This offender presented a triple threat of serious bodily injury and death: a prior convicted felon in possession of a loaded firearm while distributing a highly addictive substance on the streets. Felon+gun+drugs=a federal prison sentence that protects the community by incapacitating a repeat dangerous offender, and achieves justice by providing proper punishment without the sanctuary of parole."
This case was investigated by the Memphis Police Department and Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force. The Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative is 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. In 2017, PSN was reinvigorated as part of the Justice Department’s 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 the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Neal Oldham prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.