DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Mississippi

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Darren J. LaMarca
, United States Attorney

Natchez Man Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison Under Project EJECT for Possessing a Stolen Firearm

Jackson, Miss – Damien Hayes, 24, of Natchez, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge David C. Bramlette III to 18 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for possessing a stolen firearm, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Kurt Thielhorn, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

On March 22, 2019, ATF agents and state and local law enforcement officers were conducting a detail in Natchez and the surrounding area in response to complaints of criminal activity. Officers smelled burning marijuana and approached Hayes who tossed a marijuana blunt onto the ground. When officers frisked Hayes, they discovered a .45 caliber pistol tucked into his pants. Further investigation revealed the firearm had been stolen from a local firearms dealer.

On January 29, 2020, Hayes was charged in a federal indictment with possessing a stolen firearm. Hayes pled guilty on October 27, 2020.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Natchez Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bert Carraway.

This case is part of Project EJECT, an initiative by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi under the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) and Project Guardian. EJECT is a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to fighting and reducing violent crime through prosecution, prevention, re-entry and awareness. EJECT stands for “Empower Justice Expel Crime Together.” PSN is bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. 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.

New Orleans Field Division