For Immediate Release
Previously Convicted Baltimore Felon Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges for Illegal Possession of a Stolen Firearm
Defendant was Prohibited From Possessing a Firearm or Ammunition as a Result of Previous Drug Trafficking and Violent Crime Convictions
Baltimore, Maryland – Tarance Damon Cousar, age 44, of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to the federal charge of illegal possession of a stolen firearm. Cousar was a previously convicted felon and knew that he was prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition. Cousar admitted that he knew, or had reason to know, that the gun was stolen.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Special Agent in Charge L.C. Cheeks, Jr. of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.
According to his guilty plea, in 2021, law enforcement began investigating drug trafficking and firearms-related incidents in the area of the 1200 block of West Baltimore Street in Baltimore. Investigators used CCTV to monitor members of a suspected drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) who conducted hand-to-hand transactions of suspected controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”). Individuals, including Tarance Cousar, were seen on CCTV exchanging cash for vials containing suspected CDS, frequently out in the open.
In April 2021, investigators purchased a total of 11 vials of suspected MDMA, also known as Ecstasy. Lab analysis of the drugs determined that it was Eutylone, a controlled substance that is a substitute of MDMA. On June 17, 2021, investigators watching the CCTV feed again observed Cousar conduct a hand-to-hand drug transaction.
As detailed in the plea agreement, on June 24, 2021, law enforcement executed court-authorized search warrants at Cousar’s residence, on his vehicle, and on his person. When law enforcement arrived at Cousar’s residence, Cousar was found in the living room. Investigators recovered: a 9mm pistol and 13 rounds of 9mm ammunition located in the pistol’s magazine; one black plastic bag containing 62 grams of Eutylone, along with empty packaging material; a digital scale with a white powdery residue; a black plastic bag containing drug packaging material; and a cell phone. Law enforcement checked the serial number on the firearm and learned that it had been stolen from North Carolina.
Cousar admitted that everything found in the house belonged to him. Further, Cousar knew that as a result of previous convictions for possession with intent to distribute CDS, voluntary manslaughter, and use of a handgun in a crime of violence, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.
Cousar and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea agreement, Cousar will be sentenced to between 102 and 120 months in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman has scheduled sentencing for June 9, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.
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. PSN, an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime, is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Anatoly Smolkin, who is prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psnexile and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.