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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
Roger B. Handberg, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Armed Drug Dealer Sentenced to Over Nine Years in Federal Prison

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven today sentenced Derek Owens (34, St. Petersburg) to nine years and three months in federal prison for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. The court also ordered Owens to forfeit a Smith & Wesson, M&P 40C semi-automatic pistol, 16 rounds of ammunition, and $1,073 in cash, which are traceable to proceeds of the offense. Owens had pleaded guilty on January 23, 2019.

According to court documents, on August 14, 2018, law enforcement officers on routine patrol in St. Petersburg noticed a red Independent Taxi, without a public vehicle certificate displayed, commit a traffic violation. The officers initiated a traffic stop on the taxi. As the taxi slowed down, the rear passenger (Owens) began trying to exit the car. After failing to open the door from the inside, Owens reached his hand out of the window and opened the door from the outside. As Owens exited the moving car, the officers observed a black firearm and firearm holster on Owen’s person as he attempted to flee. The officers observed Owens discard the firearm as he ran towards an alley. The officers then gave chase to Owens on foot, eventually apprehending him approximately one block away from the initial traffic stop. After Owens was secured, an officer returned to the scene where Owens had discarded his firearm.

During a search of Owen’s person, an officer recovered $1,073, a plastic bag containing 82 grams of cocaine, a plastic bag containing 20 grams of cocaine, a plastic bag containing 8 grams of marijuana, and 2 cellphones. The officers also recovered the firearm and holster. Further investigation revealed that the firearm had previously been reported stolen.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the St. Petersburg Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charlie D. Connally.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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