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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Columbia
Matthew M. Graves, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, December 19, 2023

District Man Found Guilty on 10 Counts Related to Drug Trafficking and Firearms Offenses

Defendant Possessed a Cornucopia of Narcotics and an Armory of Guns and Ammunition

WASHINGTON — Antonio Christian Payne, 30, of Northeast Washington D.C. was found guilty by a federal jury today on 10 felony charges related to drug trafficking and firearms offenses in the District of Columbia.

The jury verdict, which followed a five-day trial in U.S. District Court, was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Special Agent in Charge Craig Kailimai of the Washington Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Chief Pamela Smith of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Payne remains held pending his sentencing before the Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan, scheduled for April 17, 2024.

According to the government’s evidence, MPD launched an investigation into Payne’s activities on April 18, 2022, following a daylight drive-by shooting near Payne’s stash house at 2430 Baldwin Cres, NE.

The shooter apparently had targeted Payne’s cousin, who had escaped without injury. Officers responded to the scene within minutes and were let into the home where Payne and his cousin were staying, where they attempted to investigate the shooting and determine if Payne’s cousin needed medical aid. At the same time, officers and detectives canvassed the area for witnesses and ultimately reviewed surveillance footage which revealed that minutes prior to the drive-by, Payne had brandished a firearm at the suspect who later did the shooting after that suspect had attempted to access Payne’s car and garage, both of which were later found to have narcotics and ammunition in them.

On discovering this information, officers seized the residence and applied for an emergency search warrant, which they obtained that evening. During their search, officers recovered six firearms (one ghost rifle, one .22 caliber rifle and four semi-automatic 9mm pistols), sundry rounds of ammunition of various calibers, magazines, firearms accessories (including a ballistic vest designed to withstand rifle-rounds), almost 750 grams of fentanyl, 240 grams of cocaine powder, 175 grams of cocaine base, 130 grams of methamphetamine, 12 kilograms of marijuana, and dozens upon dozens of oxycodone pills, along with nearly $30,000 in U.S. currency.   

The jury today found Payne guilty of unlawful possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl; unlawful possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; unlawful possession with intent to distribute marijuana; unlawful possession with intent to distribute cocaine hydrochloride; unlawful possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; unlawful possession with intent to distribute oxycodone; unlawful opening and maintenance of a premises to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance; using, carrying and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense; using, carrying and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense; and carrying a pistol without a license.

In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Graves, SAC Kailimai and Chief Smith applauded the work of MPD officers and detectives and commended the ATF special agents who subsequently investigated the case.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Will Hart and Solomon Eppel of the Violence Reduction and Trafficking Offenses Section. Valuable assistance was provided by paralegal Peter Gaboton, Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Gold, and former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Engallena, who assisted in the investigation and charging of this case. Graves, Kailimai and Smith also praised Leif Hickling and Charlie Bruce of LitTech and VRTO supervisory paralegal Mary Downing for their assistance on this case. 


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