For Immediate Release
Rapid City Man Found Guilty of Firearm and Drug Charges
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that Jonathan Andrew Blacksmith, a/k/a Jon Andrew Blacksmith, age 44, was found guilty of 2 counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, 2 counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, and 1 count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime following a federal jury trial in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Each Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. The first Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years to not more than 40 years in federal prison. The second charge of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. The charge of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime carries a minimum of 5 years up to life in prison.
Evidence at trial established Blacksmith, knowing he was a convicted felon, possessed a Glock 9mm pistol in Kyle, South Dakota, on February 17, 2017, and a .40 caliber pistol in Rapid City in January 2017. Blacksmith distributed 50 grams or more of methamphetamine in Kyle in February 2017. In January 2017, Blacksmith distributed methamphetamine in Rapid City while in possession of the .40 caliber pistol.
Drug trafficking is an inherently violent activity. Firearms are tools of the trade for drug dealers. It is common to find drug traffickers armed with guns in order to protect their illegal drug product and cash, and enforce their illegal operations.
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: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-william-p-barr-announces-launch-project-guardian-nationwide-strategic-plan.
This case was investigated by federal, state and local agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Drug Enforcement, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, the Rapid City Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team ("UNET"), which is a local drug task force comprised of various agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Kelderman prosecuted and tried the case.
A sentencing date has been set for June 22, 2020. Blacksmith was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing.