D.C. Man is Fifth Defendant to Admit Role in Conspiracy That Sold Drugs Near a School

D.C. Man is Fifth Defendant to Admit Role in Conspiracy That Sold Drugs Near a School

            WASHINGTON –The fifth of five defendants engaged in a drug trafficking conspiracy entered a guilty plea today in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

            Kurtis Mathes, 33, of Washington, D.C, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, acknowledging that the drug distribution transactions took place within 1,000 feet of a school. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2023.

            The investigation focused on a drug trafficking organization that operated outside a gas station and within 1,000 feet of a school on South Capitol Street.

            The plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Special Agent in Charge Christopher Amon, of the Washington Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget, of the Washington Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Interim Chief Ashan Benedict, of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

            Mathes was charged with Tayion Hamiel-Ward, 25, of Washington, D.C.; Karl Dunn, 45, of Suitland; Brian Williams, 27, of Largo, Maryland; and DeShawn Barnes, 28, also of Washington, D.C., all of whom have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

            According to court documents, the defendants were operating an open-air drug market near a gas station and tobacco store in the 4600 block of South Capitol Street S.W. Several shootings in that area, dating back to at least March 2021, sparked an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police Department, focusing on violent crime and drug trafficking activities near the Exxon Gas Station (“Exxon”) and the SC Discount Tobacco and Grocery Store (“Tobacco Store”), located at 4665 South Capitol Street SW and 4675 South Capitol Street SW, Washington D.C., respectively. The Exxon and the Tobacco Store, which are next to each other, are located within 1,000 feet of Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School, a public charter school in the District of Columbia. Law Enforcement observed individuals loitering in front of and inside the Exxon and Tobacco Store and selling controlled substances to gas station customers.

            Through the investigation, Law Enforcement identified five defendants, including Mathes, as being involved in this drug trafficking operation. As part of the conspiracy, Mathes and his co-defendants sold narcotics in a coordinated manner at various locations. Such coordination included the co-conspirators’ having common sources of supply, re-supplying or helping each other fill orders for narcotics, and referring customers to each other. Members of the conspiracy also possessed firearms in furtherance of the conspiracy. Law Enforcement executed controlled purchases of marijuana from members of this drug trafficking group. These purchases were recorded and monitored.

            On or around July 13, 2022, Law Enforcement executed a search warrant at Mathes’ residence, where they found: 3,056 grams of marijuana, assorted packing materials, and ammunition. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement also recovered firearms, magazines, marijuana, and more than $79,000 in cash. 

            The case is being investigated by the ATF’s Washington Field Division, the DEA’s Washington Division, and the Metropolitan Police Department. Valuable assistance was provided by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Prince George’s County, Maryland Police Department, and the U.S. Secret Service.

            The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah J. Rasalam of the Violence Reduction and Trafficking Offenses Section (VRTO).  Former Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Allison McGuire and Brian Lynch previously worked on the case.  Assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

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