United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return of an indictment charging Steven Michael Smith (35, Jacksonville) with possessing with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, possessing a short-barreled shotgun in furtherance of that drug trafficking crime, possessing firearms as a convicted felon, and possessing an unregistered short-barreled shotgun and an unregistered short-barreled weapon made from a shotgun. If convicted, Smith faces a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment for possessing with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 years, and up to life, in federal prison for possessing the shotgun in furtherance of drug trafficking, and up to 10 years in federal prison for the firearms possession offenses. The indictment also notifies Smith that the United States intends to forfeit four firearms, which are alleged to have been involved in the offenses.
According to the indictment, on April 30, 2020, Smith possessed methamphetamine that he intended to distribute. In furtherance of that drug trafficking crime, Smith possessed a Winchester 16-gauge shotgun with a barrel measuring less than 18 inches in length. The short-barreled shotgun, as well as a Mossberg 12-gauge weapon (made from a shotgun), also with a barrel measuring less than 18 inches in length, were not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, as required.
Smith had been previously convicted of at least four felonies. Therefore, he is prohibited from possessing any firearms or ammunition under federal law.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor.
This is another case prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Program (PSN), which is a nationwide, crime reduction strategy aimed at decreasing violent crime in communities. It involves a comprehensive approach to public safety—one that includes investigating and prosecuting crimes, along with prevention and reentry efforts. In the Middle District of Florida, U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez coordinates PSN efforts in cooperation with various federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.