Maplewood felon receives 15 years for gun possession

Police discovered .32-caliber revolver, drugs in 2011 vehicle stop

A Maplewood man was sentenced in U.S. District Court on May 28 to 15 years in prison for unlawful possession of a firearm. Derek Lee Preston, a 35-year-old career criminal and convicted felon, pleaded guilty to the charges Feb. 3.

In January 2011, a police officer stopped a vehicle that had committed several traffic violations near 35th and Tyler streets in Northeast Minneapolis. Three people were in the car-the unlicensed driver, the owner of the uninsured vehicle and Preston, whom the officer recognized “from prior gun-related incidents,” according to the affidavit.

Knowing Preston’s violent criminal history, the officer asked him to step out of the car and conducted a protective pat-search. During the search, the officer felt a handgun in the pocket of Preston’s jacket. The gun was discovered to be a loaded .32-caliber revolver.

In addition to the weapon, the officer found 7.5 grams of marijuana and about 4 grams of crack cocaine during the search.

Preston had been convicted of numerous other crimes prior to his 2011 arrest including robbery, terroristic threats and domestic assault, which is a felony.

The gun was manufactured in Massachusetts and had “traveled in interstate commerce” prior to its recovery, the criminal complaint stated.

Per U.S. law, convicted felons whose rights have not been restored may not possess firearms, and because the gun was transported across state lines, Preston had broken federal law and could thus be prosecuted in federal court as part of Project Exile Minneapolis.

Project Exile Minneapolis, which is a Hennepin County initiative, allows county prosecutors to team up with the U.S. attorney’s office to determine where offenders will be most effectively prosecuted. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives aided the investigation.

To learn more about Project Exile Minneapolis, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/mn/ProjectExile.html.

— Johanna Holub

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