Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal criminal complaint has been filed charging Dwight Luis Clarke, age 31, of Germantown, Maryland, for federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, distribution of controlled substances, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. According to the criminal complaint affidavit, Clarke sold crack cocaine and a heroin/fentanyl mixture, as well as seven firearms, including five privately manufactured firearms, known as “ghost guns.” The criminal complaint was filed on March 4, 2022, and Clarke was arrested on March 7, 2022. Upon his arrest, law enforcement seized another apparent semi-automatic privately made firearm from Clarke’s person. Clarke had his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt yesterday and U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day ordered that Clarke be detained pending trial.
The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Special Agent in Charge L.C. Cheeks, Jr. of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Chief Victor Brito of the Rockville City Police Department.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, early in 2022, Clarke was identified as an individual involved in the distribution of narcotics and firearms. Clarke allegedly sold narcotics and firearms to an undercover law enforcement officer (the UC) in Montgomery County, Maryland on three occasions in February. During those three meetings, Clarke allegedly sold the UC approximately 46.87 grams of crack cocaine; several gel caps of a suspected heroin/fentanyl mixture; two semi-automatic privately made firearms (ghost guns); one Smith & Wesson .22 caliber semi-automatic AR style pistol; one Walther .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol; one 33 round extended magazine loaded with one 9mm caliber cartridge; one AR style extended magazine loaded with three .22 caliber cartridges; and one ammunition box, containing 95 .22LR caliber cartridges.
As detailed in the affidavit, in a fourth meeting at the end of February, Clarke and the UC allegedly communicated via phone calls and text messages and Clarke agreed to sell three fully assembled Glock-type ghost guns for a total of $3,000. Law enforcement observed Clarke get out of his car at the meeting location carrying a white bag that appeared to contain a heavy object that allegedly resembled a firearm. The affidavit alleges that Clarke entered the front passenger seat of the UC’s vehicle and after a short conversation, exited the vehicle without the bag. A short time later, law enforcement recovered three plastic shopping bags from the vehicle, each containing a clear gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Each Ziploc bag contained a privately manufactured 9mm caliber semi-automatic pistol bearing no serial number.
The affidavit alleges that during the investigation, Clarke and the UC had a conversation, during which the UC told Clarke that he was unable to purchase a gun at a gun store due to a prior felony conviction. Clarke allegedly told the UC that he could not go into a gun store for the same reason.
If convicted, Clarke faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition; a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for distribution of controlled substances; and a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of life in federal prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
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. PSN, an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime, is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF, the Montgomery County Police Department, and the Rockville City Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy F. Hagan and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Kibbe, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psnexile and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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