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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Columbia
Matthew M. Graves, United States Attorney
www.justice.gov/usao-dc
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, January 9, 2024

District Man Sentenced to 92 Months in Prison for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon

WASHINGTON — Shawn Wooden, 41, of Washington, was sentenced today to 92 months in prison in connection with a drug trafficking conspiracy called the “MLK Crew” based in Southeast Washington, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, FBI Special Agent in Charge Geist, of the Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division, and Chief Pamela Smith, of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

Wooden, aka “Black,” pleaded guilty on Sept. 12, 2023, to unlawful possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ordered Wooden to serve three years of supervised release.

Wooden was indicted with 16 co-defendants (listed below) associated with the “MLK Crew.” All 17 defendants have pleaded guilty and only one defendant remains to be sentenced. All 16 defendants who have been sentenced received prison terms ranging from 24 months to 114 months based on their criminal conduct and criminal histories.  

The case stems from an investigation by the MPD Narcotics and Special Investigations Division and the FBI into the group that operated an open-air drug market around the 2900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, Washington D.C.

The investigation began in response to numerous citizen complaints about rampant drug trafficking and accompanying incidents of violence in the area. In addition to numerous citizen complaints, MPD targeted this area as one of the most notorious in the city in terms of recent shootings and shots fired, as well as for the area’s high numbers of arrests - particularly offenses involving drugs and firearms.

As part of its investigation, MPD and FBI began conducting surveillance, obtaining search warrants and making controlled buys of narcotics from suspected members of the conspiracy.

The investigation revealed that MLK Crew members openly engaged in the sale of various drugs (including PCP, crack, fentanyl and marijuana) and took over the area and, effectively, some of the neighborhood’s businesses. MLK Crew members would often go into the neighborhood businesses to complete sales and constantly loitered outside of these businesses to engage in sales.

As part of its investigation, MPD and FBI obtained video of defendants openly conducting narcotics transactions in these businesses and even displaying firearms. Throughout the case, law enforcement seized at least 10 firearms (many of which were privately manufactured firearms or “ghost guns”) from MLK crew members and/or stash houses and a sizeable quantity of various narcotics.

As discussed at sentencing, Wooden maintained a stash house at an apartment within MLK Crew territory, leased under the name of a different individual, where Wooden stored both firearms and distribution quantities of narcotics. Photographic and video evidence showed Wooden in the apartment, along with several of his co-conspirators, both cooking crack cocaine and separately packaging narcotics for redistribution. Wooden’s stash house was searched on July 19, 2021, where two firearms were recovered, along with 19 grams of fentanyl and 6 grams of crack cocaine. A DNA analysis revealed “very strong support” for the conclusion that Wooden’s DNA was on one of the firearms seized from the crew’s stash-house apartment, specifically, a privately manufactured firearm (a ghost gun) containing a Glock 27 .40 caliber slide and .40 caliber ammunition in an extended 22- round capacity magazine. Wooden, who has prior felony convictions and was on supervised release at the time of his arrest, is prohibited from legally possessing firearms.

The MLK Crew’s trafficking contributed to numerous incidents of drug-related violence in and around the 2900 Block of MLK Avenue, including multiple assaults, shootings, robberies and murders—most notably, the murder of a six-year-old girl who was the daughter of one of the co-defendants in this case.

In July of 2021, a few months after opening the investigation, MPD and FBI arrested 11 initial defendants and seized 10 firearms, along with PCP, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, pills and more than $2,500 in cash. The additional six defendants, including Wooden, were charged in September 2021, and were arrested shortly thereafter.

This investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the U.S. by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

The prosecutions followed a joint investigation by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Cross Border Safe Streets Task Force in partnership with MPD’s Narcotics and Special Investigations (NSID) Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). This partnership targets the most egregious and violent street crews operating in the District of Columbia.

Assistance was provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Park Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew W. Kinskey and David T. Henek of the Violence Reduction and Trafficking Offenses Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andy T. Wang also provided valuable assistance.

DEFENDANT

STATUS

Ricky Lyles, Accokeek, MD

Sentenced to 114 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possessing a firearm

Nico Griffin, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 37 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine

Dandre Shorter, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 37 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine

Wesley Leake, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 40 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine

Leon Lindsay, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 57 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine

Dezmond Cunningham,
Washington, DC

Sentenced to 48 months conspiracy to distribute cocaine

Divine Chappell, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 76 months for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and conspiracy to distribute cocaine

Shawn Wooden, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 92 months for illegal possession of a firearm by a felon

Barry Tyson, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 73 months for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine

Delonta Chappell,
Washington, DC 

Sentenced to 48 months for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine

Anthony GravesWashington, DC

Sentenced to 27 months for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine

Deshawn Loggins,
Temple Hills, MD 

Sentenced to 42 months for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine

Kevonte Randall, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 46 months for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and possessing a firearm

Corenzo Mobery, Washington, DC 

Scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 26, 2024, for possession with intent to deliver cocaine, carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug offense, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon

Rico Griffin, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 66 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine

Shahborne Scales, Washington, DC 

Sentenced to 66 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine

Luther McDuffie, 35, Washington, DC

Sentenced to 24 months for conspiracy to distribute cocaine

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