For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider Announces Progress in Making our Communities Safer through Project Safe Neighborhoods Unveils Media Campaign Aimed at Raising Awareness
Federal prosecution against felons and violent offenders with guns in the Eastern District of Michigan increased 10% in 2019. The strong partnership we have with our state and local law enforcement agencies, particularly the Detroit Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, and Federal Bureau of Investigation enabled us to identify the most significant violent offenders in our district for federal prosecution.
“Ensuring that guns stay out of the hands of prohibited people is critical to the mission of preventing violent crimes,” stated United States Attorney Matthew Schneider. “We are working hard to identify and target the most violent offenders in our communities in an effort to reduce and prevent further violence.”
“By utilizing ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center and NIBIN technology, investigators are using crime gun intelligence to quickly identify serial shooters, firearms traffickers, and other violent offenders and hold them accountable for the violence their actions cause throughout our community,” said Special Agent in Charge James Deir. “When you add in the great collaboration of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, the community benefits with safer streets.”
“Ensuring the safety and security of our residents in the city of Detroit is our number one priority. Project Safe Neighborhood is yet another example of how we can work collaboratively to create safe neighborhoods and will continue our efforts in targeting violent offenders that pose a threat to the quality of life for the residents”, said Chief James Craig.
Through advances in technology, we have been able to identify offenders who are driving violent crime rates in certain areas of Detroit. In 2019, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategy, began operating in the 9th Precinct of Detroit. During that year, we saw a 28% decrease in the number of non-fatal shootings and a 10% drop in homicides.
In an effort to continue this downward trend, the United States Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the Detroit Police Department and the City of Detroit, have created billboards and public service announcements to spread the message that gun crimes come with tough federal prison sentences.
The billboards, which will go up this week and run through the week of March 9, are located at:
Harper Road east of Park Drive (this week - March 22)
Gratiot Avenue north of Waltham (this week - March 22)
Gratiot Avenue north of Fairport (March 9-April 5)
E. McNichols Road west of Hamburg (March 9-April 5)
The public service announcements can be found at:
This awareness campaign was developed as part of Attorney General William Barr’s signature anti-gun violence initiative, Project Guardian. This initiative is designed to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws across the country. Specifically, Project Guardian focuses on investigating, prosecuting, and preventing gun crimes and serves as a complementary effort to the success of PSN.
In reaffirming our commitment to PSN, the United States Attorney’s Office’s Major Crimes Unit expanded prosecution guidelines to include domestic violence offenders, straw purchasers, offenders who possess guns with positive NIBIN hits (forensically linking guns to crime scenes), and offenders with gang affiliations. Some of those cases include:
- Derrell Hayes and Mohammad Karkash, both convicted felons who were on federal supervised release, violated their terms of release by committing a domestic violence offense. Hayes received a term of incarceration of 24 months in federal prison and Karkash received a sentence of 21 months in federal prisonn.
- Eight individuals were charged in a firearms straw buyer trafficking ring. It is alleged these individuals made false statements during the purchase of firearms, indicating that they were purchasing the firearms for themselves, when they were purchasing the firearm for a multi-convicted felon. This is otherwise known as a “straw purchase,” which is a violation of federal law. The firearm purchases were made at numerous stores in the metro Detroit area.
- A Detroit man was charged and convicted of illegally possessing a firearm while on probation and fleeing from law enforcement. ATF began investigating the defendant after receiving a NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) lead connecting firearms in the defendants’ possession to two separate shooting incidents in Detroit.
Through our partnership with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office we have accepted for federal prosecution nearly 40 percent of all the cases referred by their office. This partnership has allowed us to remove some of the worst repeat offenders from our streets. Those offenders include:
- Tyrone Vannoy, an armed career criminal with seventeen prior convictions on his record. Vannoy was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison following his conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and using a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking offense.
- Denver Lee, a seven-time convicted felon, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison following his conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
- Danny Woods, a multi-convicted felon and armed career criminal, was arrested for selling drugs in a park in Detroit. He received a 20 year sentence in federal prison.
We realize that we can’t simply prosecute our way out of violent crime and that prevention is an essential part of the equation. Part of the prevention component is Ceasefire Detroit. Ceasefire Detroit is a partnership between law enforcement, church leaders, and community members that speaks directly to those individuals who are driving the violence in our communities. Ceasefire Detroit focuses on a key group of gang members: trigger pullers. Ceasefire Detroit requires gang members who are on probation or parole to report to a “Call In” a meeting with U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, Mayor Mike Duggan, Police Chief James Craig, and community partners such as Goodwill Industries and Flip the Script. Gang members in attendance are warned about the harsh prosecutorial and incarceration ramifications they will face if anyone of their members is involved a future shooting. They are warned that all of the state and federal law enforcement partners will pool resources in an effort to prosecute and dismantle the entire gang. At the “Call In,” they are offered an opportunity to sign up for job skills, G.E.D., and other services if they want to get out of the gang lifestyle.
Project Safe Neighborhoods works. It works because of the ongoing cooperation and commitment from our partners. While progress has been made, the fight is not over. We will continue to work together to fight violent crime in our communities.