A pair of Atlanta residents recently received life sentences for their involvement in a string of robberies at Asian owned and operated businesses across metro Atlanta, including businesses in Duluth and Norcross.

The Department of Justice said Dravion Sanchez Ware, 25, and Tabyron Rashad Smith, 26, were sentenced for the crimes which occurred in October and November 2017. In addition to one business in Duluth and one in Norcross, Smith and Ware are accused of robbing one business in Stone Mountain, one in Roswell, two in Doraville and three in Atlanta.

Federal prosecutors particularly focused on Ware, who was accused of shooting three women, including one who was shot in the back as she "trembled on the floor," during one of the robberies. All three of the women whom he is accused of shooting survived, federal officials said. The Department of Justice said he also often pistol-whipped victims who did not resist him, resulting in one man being sent to a hospital.

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“Ware terrorized the victims of these robberies and nearly killed one woman,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Kurt R. Erskine said. “The complete disregard for the lives of his victims was shocking, and he received an appropriate sentence. We hope this provides some peace to the victims by ensuring that Ware will never again terrorize the communities of our district.”

Ware was sentenced to serve five concurrent life terms in prison, as well as six-concurrent 20-year prison terms. He must also pay $135,951.81 in restitution. In August 2019, he was convicted on five counts of Hobbs Act robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robberies and four counts of discharging or brandishing a firearm during several robberies.

“This sentence is a statement that anyone who carries out such evil and inflicts such trauma on innocent citizens has no right to be in our communities,” said Chris Hacker, special agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The sentence will not erase the traumatic scars his crimes left behind, but hopefully his victims can rest easier knowing Ware will not traumatize them or anyone else for the rest of his life.”

Meanwhile, Smith was sentenced to serve a 27-year prison sentence as well as three years of supervised release. He must also pay $135,951.81 in restitution. He was convicted in July 2019 on one count of conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robberies and four counts of discharging or brandishing a firearm during several robberies.

Both men were arrested in November 2017 after a multi-agency investigation that involved the FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Gwinnett County, Atlanta, Fulton County, Doraville, Roswell and Sandy Springs police departments.

“The GBI Crime Lab was instrumental in this case," Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said. "Expert analysis and testimony helped lead to a successful prosecution. The GBI is committed to provide the highest quality forensic services in all cases. For over a month, these gang members targeted and terrorized the Asian business community. This sentence is evidence that this behavior will not be tolerated in the state of Georgia.”

Atlanta Police Department Interim Police Chief Rodney Bryant said, “Ware and Smith are indicative of the criminals who terrorize our communities and make them unsafe. Each day we put on our uniforms and put our lives on the line to fight crime, investigate cases like these, and do what it takes to keep our communities safe. When the courts convict these perpetrators, we are all vindicated. This news empowers us to keep doing the work we were called to do.”

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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