Cocaine Trafficking Charges Filed Against 72 People for Alleged Conspiracy Focused on East Side of Cleveland

June 12, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 12, 2012 released the following:

“CLEVELAND— Seventy-two people were indicted in federal court in the Northern District of Ohio for their roles in a conspiracy to bring powder and crack cocaine in from Georgia and Kentucky and sell it throughout Greater Cleveland, law enforcement officials announced today.

Four of those indicted are also accused of taking part in the shooting and robbery of a Euclid, Ohio man in January 2012. That shooting led to a manhunt throughout Euclid and Cleveland.

An additional 14 people were indicted in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court on state drug charges.

The indictment is believed to be the largest ever filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, in terms of number of defendants.

“The criminal activity laid out in this indictment shows the lengths people will go to sell drugs, but it should also underscore our commitment to fighting back,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“This investigation and 97-count indictment represent a top-to-bottom dismantlement of a violent criminal organization intent on polluting our neighborhoods with drugs,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office. “As evidenced by the results of this investigation, the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force and its community partners will work tirelessly to target and eliminate the most significant threats to our communities.”

Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said, “With these 86 indictments, a major blow has been dealt to drug trafficking in this area. This is another example of what can be accomplished when our law enforcement partners work together to identify and arrest those individuals responsible for selling drugs in our communities. Along with our law enforcement partners and the community, we will continue to work together to stop the sale of illegal drugs in our neighborhoods.”

The drug conspiracy took place between 2011 and May 2012, according to the 97-count federal indictment.

Walter Williams obtained kilogram amounts of cocaine in Georgia and elsewhere and transported the drugs to Cleveland, where he sold the cocaine to Edward Martin and others. Martin, in turn, sold large amounts of cocaine to Deante Rogers, Thomas McDonald, Aaron Strange, Andy Gray, Jamar Pennyman, T’Andre Buchanan, Irin Green, David Paige, Demtrius Duvall, Dennis Edwards, Shaughn Hubbard, Richard Wilson, and others in the Greater Cleveland area, according to the indictment.

Chase Downey, John Campbell, Javier Garza, and Francisco Rodriguez, all of Kentucky, traveled to the Cleveland area and sold kilograms of cocaine to Charles Smith, Randy Jackson, Deante Rogers, Thomas McDonald, and others, according to the indictment.

Deante Rogers used his Cleveland residence to sell, process, and store cocaine and crack cocaine, according to the indictment.

Charles Smith used a Euclid residence to sell, process, and store cocaine and crack cocaine, according to the indictment.

Rogers and Smith would then sell cocaine and crack cocaine to dozens of other people, according to the indictment.

On January 6, 2012, John Campbell, Chase Downey, Francisco Rodriguez, and R.D. (a person known to the grand jury but not charged herein) met Charles Smith at the residence in Euclid and offered to sell him a kilogram of cocaine for $30,000, according to the indictment.

During the meeting, Rodriguez shot Smith twice and Campbell, Downey, and Rodriguez and took nearly 900 grams of cocaine, 300 grams of crack cocaine, and $30,000, according to the indictment.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors have charged Rodriguez, Downey, Campbell, and R.D. for those acts, as well as for the shootout with police that followed.

Federal prosecutors are also seeking to forfeit assets obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the violations or used to commit or facilitate the commission of the violations, including but not limited to, more than $93,000 in cash; nine firearms; a watch; jewelry; a Ford F150; and three homes.

“By following the money trail, special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation help to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations that attempt to conceal the true source of their money from the government,” said Darryl Williams, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal record, if any; the defendants’ role in the offense; and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum, and in most cases, they will be less than the minimum.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph M. Pinjuh and Adam Hollingsworth following an investigation by the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement Task Force (NOLETF).

The NOLETF is a long standing multi-agency task force comprised of investigators from the FBI; Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority; Drug Enforcement Administration; IRS; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; Cleveland Division of Police; Cleveland Heights, Ohio Police Department; Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office; Euclid Police Department; Regional Transit Authority Police Department; Strongsville, Ohio Police Department; Westlake, Ohio Police Department; and Shaker Heights, Ohio Police Department. The NOLETF is also one of the initial Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiatives. The HIDTA Program supports and helps coordinate numerous Ohio drug task forces in their efforts to eliminate or reduce drug-trafficking in Ohio.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Fifteen Individuals Indicted in an Alleged Large-Scale Federal Drug Conspiracy Case

January 11, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 10, 2012 released the following:

“Fifteen individuals have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on federal charges, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced. Ms. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso, Drug Enforcement Administration; Special Agent in Charge David McCain, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.

Indicted were Orlando Ricardo Gordon, 32, of Franklin; Vince Jerome Shivers, 42, of Southfield; Derrick Arnold Terry, 51, of Detroit; Danta Shamu-Parker Johnson, 34, of Detroit; Darren Davon Terry, 35, of Detroit; Trenton Jordan Obamwonyi, 27, of Detroit; Tamiko Mel-Lang Hodo, 36, of Detroit; Anthony Wayne Hall, 46, of Detroit; Anton Jamaill Harris, 32, of Detroit; Ervin Kenneth Vincent, 24, of Inkster; Darnell Darryl Easterling, 48, of Detroit; Courtney Deon Shafi Strickland, 36, of Detroit; Benjamin Isaac Carter, 39, of Detroit; Erik Lee Ross, 34, of Sterling Heights; and Allen Corey Terry, 47, of Farmington Hills.

As alleged in the indictment, the conspiracy lasted for years, dating back to 2008, and involved in excess of 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, five kilograms of cocaine, and 280 grams of crack cocaine. Some of the defendants are also charged with being felons illegally possessing firearms. The narcotics trafficking conspiracy carries possible sentences of 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine, and the felon in possession charges carry possible sentences of up to 10 years of prison.

The investigation involved multiple federal agencies, including DEA, ATF, FBI, and IRS. The investigation included seizures of large sums of U.S. currency, including a seizure of more than $500,000 from a residence in Franklin, Michigan, large quantities of drugs, including a seizure of over 1,000 kilograms/2,200 pounds of marijuana, and multiple firearms.

United States Attorney McQuade stated that, “Large-scale drug trafficking and accompanying gun crimes create danger and fear in our neighborhoods. The coordinated efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies helped to dismantle this conspiracy.”

ATF Special Agent in Charge David McCain said, “Narcotics trafficking along with violent firearm activity destroys the families and neighborhoods in our communities. ATF along with its state, local, and federal partners will continue to aggressively pursue those violent individuals and organizations that cripple our communities with crime.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Corso said, “Today’s arrests are significant. These individuals directed a major marijuana and cocaine trafficking ring that operated throughout southeast Michigan. The dismantling of this organization has halted the flow of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of illegal drugs into metropolitan Detroit. This investigation exemplifies the strong collaborative effort that exists between DEA and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and is a positive step towards making our community safer for everyone.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena said, “Narcotics trafficking continues to plague this region and directly contributes to violence on our streets. The FBI will continue to partner with federal, state, and local law enforcement to address these issues.”

IRS Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez said, “This indictment illustrates the seriousness behind prosecuting drug trafficking crimes. The role of IRS-CI is to take the profit out of these illegal organizations. Drug dealers pollute our neighborhoods with no regret as their actions are only fueled by greed. The seizure of their illegal proceeds, drugs, and weapons brings us one step closer to justice.”

The Detroit Police Department, the Franklin Police Department, the Troy Police Department, the Novi Police Department, the Warren Police Department, the Michigan State Police, and the U.S. Marshals Service also assisted in the investigation of the case.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


New rules slashing crack cocaine sentences go into effect

November 2, 2011

CNN on November 2, 2011 released the following:

“By Carol Cratty, CNN

Washington (CNN) — For thousands of prison inmates convicted of crack cocaine charges, the prison doors will be opening early, thanks to sentencing changes easing the disparity between the penalties for possessing or distributing crack vs. powder cocaine.

Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act in August 2010, changing the 100-to-1 disparity between minimum sentences for crack and powder cocaine to 18 to 1. The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted this summer to make the reduced crack penalties retroactive, which means more than 12,000 current inmates are eligible to request reduced sentences.

The retroactivity took effect Tuesday. The Sentencing Commission estimates that inmates will have an average of three years chopped off their sentences. An estimated 1,800 inmates became eligible for release immediately because they had already served enough time, and prosecutors did not object to their release.

Critics of the old sentencing system say it was unfair to African-Americans, who make up the majority of those convicted of possessing and distributing crack.

“This really has been one of the great stains on our federal criminal justice system for 20 years or more,” said Michael Nachmanoff, the federal public defender for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This disparity between the punishment for crack cocaine and powder was really unjustified.”

Nachmanoff noted under the old guidelines someone who had just 5 grams of crack cocaine would receive a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. But someone would have to have 500 grams of powdered cocaine to receive a similar sentence.

Nachmanoff’s district is believed to have the largest number of people in the country — between 800 and 900 people — who might benefit from the reduced sentencing guidelines on crack. He said 75 of his clients were expected to be released on the first day of retroactivity.

“A lot of people have been sitting in jail for a long time not because they didn’t commit crimes, but because the punishment they faced was too harsh and unjustified compared to other people who had committed similar crimes in similar ways,” Nachmanoff told CNN. He said reduced sentences will not be automatic. Judges must review the cases and determine whether an early release of an inmate represents a danger to the community.

William Johnson, a Virginia man convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in 1997, was one of those released Tuesday. “It’s unbelievable. I’m ecstatic,” Johnson told CNN.” The 39-year-old father of four said he only found out Monday he would be released the next day.

Under the terms of his original sentence, he would have been eligible for release in October 2018, and that sentence was reduced a few years ago so that his revised release date was June 2014.

Johnson, who identified himself as an African-American, said there seemed to be a racial component to the different sentences given out in the past for crack and powder cocaine, but he said he wouldn’t describe himself as bitter.

“I don’t have time for it,” said Johnson. He said he’s concentrating on catching up with family members and making plans to go into business cleaning office buildings.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums has fought for changes in mandatory cocaine penalties for years.

“Most mandatory sentences are so high and so rigid that judges can’t get around them, so people are going to prison for extraordinarily long times, way beyond what they need to learn their lessons,” said FAMM spokeswoman Julie Stewart.

But even with the changes, there is still an 18-to-1 disparity in sentences for crack and powder cocaine offenses. Nachmanoff said now a person with crack will have to have 28 grams before triggering a mandatory five-year minimum sentence. But the person with powder cocaine still must have a much larger amount — at least 500 grams.

“Ultimately the right answer is 1 to 1, and people in the law enforcement community and the criminal justice system recognize that,” said Nachmanoff. “But that just means that there’s still more work to do.””

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Six Additional Defendants Charged in “Operation Prairie Eagle”

September 30, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 29, 2011 released the following:

“PEORIA, IL—A federal grand jury has returned indictments against six additional defendants as a result of “Operation Prairie Eagle,” a cooperative investigation targeting distribution of crack cocaine and marijuana in the Bloomington-Normal area. Fifteen defendants were previously indicted in May 2011.

The charges are the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Springfield Division and the Normal Police Department, with assistance provided by the Bloomington Police Department, the McLean County Sheriff’s Office, the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.

Four defendants, Richard George Martin, 32, of Bloomington, Ill.; Shane C. Crawford, 30, of Streator, Ill.; Chad Joseph Graff, 35, also of Streator; and Alex William Guhlstorf, 39, of Normal, are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The one-count indictment alleges the conspiracy began in 2001 and continued to the present and involved more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture of Martin’s bank accounts and cash totaling approximately $107,059.

If convicted, the statutory mandatory minimum penalty for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana is 10 years to life in prison. If a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the mandatory minimum penalty is 20 years to life in prison. With two or more prior felony drug convictions, the statutory penalty is life in prison.

In a separate indictment, Kelsie Linea Thirtyacre, 26, currently of Las Vegas, previously of Springfield, Ill., and Julie Lynn Foster, 32, of Cicero, Ill., are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The indictment alleges the conspiracy began in 2001 and continued to Apr. 5, 2011, and involved more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The women also each face three additional charges of using a telephone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

If convicted, conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute marijuana carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years to life in prison; if a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the mandatory minimum penalty is 10 years to life in prison. For using a telephone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, the penalty is up to four years in prison.

The two indictments were returned yesterday; however, the charges had remained sealed pending the defendants’ arrests and court appearances today. Crawford, Graff, Guhlstorf, and Foster were arrested this morning and appeared in federal court in Peoria this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman. All were detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending hearings scheduled next week. Foster’s next hearing date is Oct. 6; hearings for Crawford, Graff and Guhlstorf are scheduled on Oct. 7. Martin, who is currently in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, will appear at a later date. Thirtyacre was arrested this morning in Las Vegas, and will make an initial appearance in federal court in Las Vegas.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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60 Indicted in Drug and Gun Sting Operation

August 30, 2011

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on August 30, 2011 released the following:

“CLEVELAND – Twenty-six people were indicted in federal court on firearms and drug trafficking charges following a year-long undercover sting operation centered in Mansfield, Ohio.

The joint operation, led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – with the participation of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) – targeted convicted felons who traffic firearms and drugs.

The investigation focused on the unlawful sale and possession of firearms, the use of firearms in narcotics trafficking and the distribution of drugs in and around the Mansfield-area.

In a related effort, 34 people were indicted on state drug trafficking charges.

The investigation resulted in the seizure of:

  • Hundreds of rounds of ammunition;
  • 70 firearms;
  • 1,316 grams of cocaine;
  • 768 grams of crack cocaine;
  • 1,099 Oxycodone pills;
  • 215 ecstasy pills;
  • 199 Vicodin pills;
  • Five grams of heroin; and
  • 36 pills of Alprazolam.

“This undercover operation was strategically targeted at felons and violent criminals who flooded Mansfield with prescription drugs, illegal narcotics and illegal firearms,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Ohio. “This investigation will shut off a significant pipeline of illegal firearms and drugs.”

“Thwarting today’s criminal organizations requires the collective expertise, diverse statutory authorities, and jurisdiction of many agencies and departments,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI for Ohio and Michigan. “This case is a perfect example of the power of collaboration and its impact on public safety here in Ohio.”

The indictments included 121 separate criminal charges. They were returned Aug. 24, but only unsealed this morning when federal and local agents arrested the suspects.

The cases are grouped as 12 separate indictments. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly L. Galvin and Carol M. Skutnik.

The investigation is being conducted by: the ATF, HSI, U.S. Marshals Service, Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, Ravenna Police Department and the Ohio Adult Parole Authority.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Seventeen Charged in Drug Conspiracy, Accused of Distributing Cocaine in Washington, DC Area

August 10, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia on August 9, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON – Fifteen individuals have been arrested in connection with a three-year investigation into drug trafficking in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. At the time of the arrests, law enforcement officers seized illegal narcotics, six firearms, four vehicles, and more than $600,000 in cash. The arrests follow the return of a federal indictment charging 17 individuals with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana.

The arrests, indictments, and seizures were announced today by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

The defendants were indicted on Thursday, August 4, 2011 on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds derived from and assets used to commit the alleged crimes. If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of ten years in custody and a maximum of life in prison.

The seventeen defendants charged include Espey Brown, Jr., 37, of Washington, D.C.; Keith Gregory Gaston, 39, of Silver Spring, MD; Angela Denise Peoples, 40, of Washington, D.C.; Eugene Edward Gadson, 38, of Washington, D.C.; Derrick Anthony Harris, 37, of Washington, D.C.; Laura Ann Cooper, 51, of Washington, D.C.; Gregory Tuckson, 55, of Washington, D.C.; Harry Terrell, Jr., 68, of Washington, D.C.; Thomas Kearney, Jr., 53, of Washington, D.C.; Gregory Martin, 55, of Washington, D.C.; David Emanuel Kyle, 41, of Camp Springs, MD; Tyrone Marcel Smith, 42, of Accokeek, MD; Joseph Garvin Young, 35, of Lanham, MD; Anthony Andre Carter, 32, of Fort Washington, MD; Walter Lybrant Hayman, 47, of Glenn Dale, MD; Marcus Alfred Gurley, 31, of Glenn Dale, MD; and Eric Michael Woods, 40, of Washington, D.C.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

Following the return of the indictment, law enforcement officers executed a series of arrest and search warrants in the District of Columbia and Maryland during the early morning hours of August 9, 2011, confiscating approximately one-half kilogram of cocaine, one-quarter kilogram of crack cocaine, and one pound of marijuana. In addition, the officers seized four vehicles, more than $600,000 in cash, and six firearms, including two machine pistols.

“These arrests and seizures are the result of a concerted, relentless campaign to disrupt and dismantle the networks that fuel drug addiction in our city,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. “By removing these narcotics and guns from our neighborhoods, we have made the District of Columbia a safer place.”

“Today’s arrests show the hard work and determination of agents and detectives from FBI, MPD, Prince George’s County Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Park Police who partner together to rid our streets of these alleged drug networks,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin.

“Because of our continued focus in the Shaw community, we have seen a dramatic reduction in violent crime,” said Chief Lanier. “These arrests are an example of the efforts of law enforcement working together to make our communities safer.”

The prosecution grew out of three years of investigative activities by a long-term FBI/MPD alliance called the Safe Streets Task Force. The Safe Streets Initiative involves more than 150 Safe Streets Task Forces around the country that combat street gangs by combining federal, state and local police resources. The task forces, which began in 1992 in Los Angeles and the District of Columbia, address gang activity including drug-related crimes. Sharing resources, manpower and intelligence allows federal prosecutors to focus on securing the maximum sentences and penalties for gang members found guilty. By working through a Task Force, investigators can focus on the entire criminal enterprise, instead of the prosecution of individual gang members.

In announcing the indictments, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director McJunkin and Chief Lanier commended the work of the FBI and MPD members of the task force who investigated the case. They also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Park Police, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and the Prince George’s County Police Department, all of which provided assistance. Finally, they cited the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth F. Whitted, Seth Adam Meinero, and Barry Wiegand.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Motorcycle Gang Members Face Murder, Drug Charges

July 12, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on July 12, 2011 released the following:

“By JIM SALTER
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Eighteen members of a motorcycle gang known as the Wheels of Soul face a federal indictment on charges ranging from racketeering to kidnapping to murder, including fatal shootings in three different states.

The indictment handed up June 9 was unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, and all but four of those indicted have been arrested. Police are seeking the remaining suspects. Three others not named in the indictment have been arrested on weapons charges, said Terry Dougherty, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in St. Louis.

The indictment alleges that a select few members of the gang achieved “1%er,” or “Diamond” status for particularly violent activity.

Some of the accusations are breathtaking; one member allegedly stabbed another person in the head during a fight at a Chicago motorcycle club, then shot another in the stomach. The indictment says gang members are required to carry weapons, mostly guns but also hammers, knives and others.

Federal authorities cite meetings in St. Louis in 2009 in which a Wheels of Soul member, Dominic Henley – known within the gang as “Bishop” – told others in the gang that a member in Gary, Ind., had been threatened. He instructed them to retaliate by robbing the rival gang members of their colors by “any means necessary.”

Gang members raised money through robberies and by distributing drugs, especially crack cocaine, but also heroin, the indictment alleges. They are accused of plotting and carrying out several acts of violence including kidnapping, robbery and murder.

In 2009, gang members allegedly shot and killed a member of the rival Sin City Titans gang in St. Louis. The shooting came weeks after a meeting in which, the indictment says, members were told that the Mother Chapter had declared “open season” on the Sin City Titans.

In January, a member Wheels of Soul allegedly shot and killed a person in Chicago during an altercation with the rival Street Soldiers gang. And in March, a member is accused of shooting three victims in the back as they fled from a party in Marion, Ohio, killing one and seriously wounding another.

In January, six of the accused went to an East St. Louis, Ill., nightclub intending to kill members of the rival Outkast OMG gang, according to the indictment. The plan was foiled because several police officers were seen near the club.

A message seeking comment from U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan was not returned. It wasn’t immediately clear if any of the defendants had attorneys.

Wheels of Soul gang members wear black vests adorned with patches on the back and commonly refer to the gang as “the Nation.” The indictment accuses gang members from St. Louis of planning to extort smaller gangs by requiring them to purchase a “support patch” that demonstrates subservience to the Wheels of Soul.

The indictment alleges that the Wheels of Soul is governed by the “Mother Chapter” in Philadelphia, with regional chapters around the country. Federal agents raided two Wheels of Soul clubhouses in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The indicted are from seven states: Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, Wisconsin and Kentucky.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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One in Every 20 Federal Prisoners Convicted of a Crack Cocaine Offense Could Get a Sentencing Break

June 30, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on June 30, 2011 released the following:

“By JESSICA GRESKO
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — One in every 20 federal prisoners could be eligible for early release under a potential sentencing change for inmates convicted of crack cocaine offenses that will be voted on Thursday.

Congress passed a law last year substantially lowering recommended sentences for people convicted of crack cocaine crimes, ranging from possession to trafficking. The idea was to fix a longstanding disparity in punishments for crack and powder cocaine crimes, but the new, lower recommended sentences for crack offenders didn’t automatically apply to people already in prison. Now it is up to the six-member U.S. Sentencing Commission to decide whether offenders locked up for crack offenses before the new law took effect should also benefit and get out earlier.

Up to 12,000 of the some 200,000 people incarcerated in federal prisons nationwide could be affected. A report by the commission estimates that the average sentence reduction would be approximately three years, though a judge would still have to approve any reduction.

“There is a tremendous amount of hope out there,” said Mary Price, vice president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, an advocacy group for prisoners and their relatives. “There is a potential that people could see their sentences reduced, for some quite dramatically.”

At a meeting in early June, commissioners suggested they want to apply the lower recommended sentences to at least some past offenders, but it is unclear how many. Advocacy groups have asked for the widest possible application while a group of 15 Republican lawmakers from the House and Senate wrote a letter to the commission saying the Fair Sentencing Act passed by Congress last year was not intended to benefit any past offenders.

At a hearing in early June about the potential changes, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder took the middle road. He expressed support for making the new, lower guideline sentences retroactive but suggested limits on who should be eligible. Holder said prisoners who used weapons during their crimes or who have significant criminal histories should not be eligible. If the commission adopts that view it could cut in half the number of prisoners who would stand to benefit from 12,000 to approximately 6,000.

Any decision about who should be eligible for a reduced sentence will have to be approved by four of the commission’s six members, who include judges and former prosecutors. Once the commission votes, Congress has until the end of October to reject or modify the guidelines, though that is considered unlikely.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Seven More Defendants Indicted in Federal Drug Conspiracy Case, Accused of Distributing Cocaine in Washington Area

June 22, 2011

U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia on June 21, 2011 released the following press release:

– Latest Developments in Probe That Led to Seizure of Nearly 30 Kilos of Cocaine –

WASHINGTON – Seven men were arrested today on federal charges stemming from an ongoing investigation into a drug trafficking organization that distributed large amounts of cocaine in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. All told, 11 people have now been charged in a case that earlier led to the seizure of nearly 30 kilograms of cocaine, weapons and cash.

The arrests, following the return of a superseding indictment by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, were announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

Four of those arrested appeared today in court and pled not guilty. They are: Sean De Angelo Crawford, 31, of Washington, D.C.; Shawn Anthony Lucas, 39, of Upper Marlboro, Md.; Roscoe Edd Minns, 32, of Laurel, Md., and Joseph Tolbert, III, 35, of Laurel, Md. All were ordered jailed without bond. The other men arrested today are due in court on June 22, 2011.

The arrests came as authorities executed seven search warrants today in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Several firearms, marijuana, crack cocaine, and $25,000 in cash were seized during today’s law enforcement activities.

Today’s action comes nearly two months after authorities investigating this case searched a storage locker in Maryland and recovered 29.5 kilograms of cocaine, a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle, two semiautomatic pistols, and two bullet-resistant vests. The seizure of cocaine is one of the largest recent drug seizures in the area. The 29.5 kilos had an estimated wholesale value of $1 million and an estimated street value of more than $3 million.

Four men were arrested on the day of that search – April 26, 2011 – and named in the original indictment returned in this case. They are Gezo Edwards, 37, of Silver Spring, Md.; William M. Bowman, 31, of Bowie, Md.; Robert Carl Richards, 35, of Seat Pleasant, Md., and Willie Moorer, 37, of Washington, D.C. All have been in custody since their arrests.

Edwards, Bowman, Richards and Moorer had been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. All had pled not guilty. The superseding indictment adds five new narcotics charges and three new weapons charges against Bowman. It also adds two new weapons charges against Edwards, Richards and Moorer. Edwards, Bowman, Richards and Moorer are to be arraigned on the new indictment on June 22, 2011.

The indictment also includes a forfeiture count – against all of those now charged in the investigation – seeking all proceeds from the crimes.

“Today’s takedown is further evidence of our effort to turn the tables on drug traffickers that endanger our community,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “We will be thorough, deliberate, and relentless in clearing our neighborhoods of narcotics, firearms, and the violence that they bring.”

“Trafficking organizations like the one alleged in this case threaten the safety and security of our neighborhoods,” said Assistant Director McJunkin. “The FBI, along with our local law enforcement partners, is focused on stopping the movement and sale of drugs on our streets and bringing those who profit from it to justice.”

“This was a major drug trafficking organization that was intent on pushing millions of dollars worth of drugs on the streets of the District of Columbia,” said Chief Lanier. “The impact would have been detrimental to our community, but this operation disrupted their criminal activities.”

The charges arose from a 15-month investigation by the FBI and MPD into people suspected of acting as wholesale distributors of cocaine in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The investigation determined that from January 2009 through April 2011, the defendants maintained a drug trafficking organization that supplied distribution amounts of cocaine, and crack cocaine to drug dealers in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

In April 2011, investigators learned that members of the organization had arranged for a large shipment of cocaine to the area, and that they were storing it in a storage facility in Hyattsville, Md. After obtaining a search warrant, agents searched the locker and recovered the 29.5 kilograms of cocaine, packaging material and firearms, including an assault rifle. In addition, searches of the residences of Edwards and Bowman resulted in the seizure of approximately $600,000 in cash.

The prosecution grew out of the efforts of the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a multi-agency team that conducts comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the nationwide program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

In announcing the new charges, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director McJunkin and Chief Lanier commended the work of the FBI and MPD members of the task force who investigated the case. They also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, the FBI’s Baltimore Division, and the Prince George’s County and Montgomery County police departments, which provided assistance. Finally they cited the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Debra Long-Doyle and Steven B. Wasserman.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Judiciary Supports Retroactivity of Crack Cocaine Amendments

June 22, 2011
Judge Reggie Walton
Judge Reggie Walton (D. D.C.) testified in June before the U.S. Sentencing Commission

The U.S. Courts – The Third Branch in June 2011 released the following:

““I recommend that the Sentencing Commission . . . give retroactive effect to its recently promulgated amendments lowering sentences for crack offenses,” Judge Reggie Walton (D. D.C.) said at a Commission hearing held this month to consider making recently promulgated crack cocaine amendments retroactive. Walton spoke on behalf of the Judicial Conference Criminal Law Committee.

The amendments would reduce penalties for crack cocaine trafficking and would modify the guidelines provisions related to simple possession of crack cocaine. The sentences of more than 12,000 federal inmates would be affected by a decision to make the amendments retroactive.

Despite significant anticipated budget reductions for the Judiciary and the workload associated with sentence reductions for more than 12,000 inmates, Walton told the Commission that the Criminal Law Committee “continues to believe that an extremely serious administrative problem would have to exist to justify not applying the amendment retroactively. At this time, the Committee does not believe that an extremely serious problem exists.”

Walton also said there continues to be strong support throughout the Judiciary to remedy the injustices related to crack sentencing.

“If the guideline is faulty and has been fixed for future cases, then we also need to undo past errors as well,” he said.

Among the witnesses testifying at the hearing were Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. and Thomas R. Kane, acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, along with panels of practitioners, law enforcement experts, and academics, and a community interest panel.

Holder also called for the retroactive application of the guideline amendment—with a proviso that applies to certain dangerous offenders: “those who have possessed or used weapons in committing their crimes and those who have significant criminal histories should be categorically prohibited from receiving the benefits of retroactivity,” said Holder.

Walton noted that the Criminal Law Committee’s recommendation in favor of retroactivity is limited to two parts of the amendment: Part A, affecting the drug quantity table for offenses involving crack cocaine; and Part C, which deletes a cross reference in the guidelines manual that effectively lowers guideline ranges for certain defendants involving simple possession of crack cocaine. Both of these amendments, “are consistent with the Judicial Conference’s position opposing sentencing differences between crack and powder cocaine and agreeing to support the reduction of those differences,” said Walton.

In October 2010, the USSC promulgated a temporary emergency amendment that implemented the emergency directive in section 8 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. In April 2011, the USSC re-promulgated the temporary amendment as a permanent amendment, which will become effective, absent congressional action, on November 1, 2011. At the same time, the Commission asked for comment on whether it should give the amendment retroactive effect.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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