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Jackson, Miss – Damien Hayes, 25, of Natchez, pled guilty today before Senior U.S. District Judge David Bramlette III to possessing a stolen firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Kurt Thielhorn, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

On March 22, 2019, ATF agents and state and local law enforcement officers were conducting a detail in Natchez and the surrounding area in response to complaints of criminal activity.  Officers smelled burning marijuana and approached Damien Hayes who tossed a marijuana blunt onto the ground.  When officers frisked Hayes, they discovered a .45 caliber pistol tucked into his pants.  Further investigation revealed the firearm had been stolen from a local firearms dealer. On January 29, 2020, Hayes was indicted for possession of a stolen firearm.   

Hayes will be sentenced by Judge Bramlette on January 26, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Natchez Police Department.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bert Carraway.

This case is part of Project EJECT, an initiative by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi under the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) and Project Guardian. EJECT is a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to fighting and reducing violent crime through prosecution, prevention, re-entry and awareness. EJECT stands for “Empower Justice Expel Crime Together.” PSN is bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.

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