Two Memphis Police Officers Arrested in Sting Operations
MAY 10 -- Memphis, TN - David Kustoff , United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, Larry Godwin, Director of Police Services for the City of Memphis, My Harrison, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Memphis Division, Andrew Dimond, Resident Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Memphis Resident Office, Cleve Daniels, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and Mark Luttrell , Shelby County Sheriff, announced the unsealing of two complaints against Memphis Police officers charged with drug-related crimes. Both officers were arrested yesterday.
Terrance Lashun Harris is 32 years old and an officer with the Memphis Police Department ( “ MPD ” ). He is currently assigned to the Southeast precinct. He has been employed with the MPD since September 29, 1997. He is charged with attempting to possess with the intent to distribute at least approximately six kilograms of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. The affidavit is attached to the complaint and describes the basis for the charge and the underlying investigation.
According to the affidavit, investigators received information that Harris was involved in distributing narcotics. To follow up on these allegations, an IRS agent analyzed Harris ’ financial transactions. As described in the affidavit, the investigators found evidence of expenditures significantly in excess of income from legal sources reported in tax returns and a bankruptcy petition filed by Harris. The affidavit alleges that Harris owns at least one and perhaps two Dixie Queen fast food restaurants, a residence in Southaven, Mississippi, a 2003 Hummer; and a 2001 Chevrolet Corvette. Currency Transaction Reports show that he deposited at least $132,297 in cash (almost three times his annual salary) in a bank account from March through May 2004, and the large cash deposits have continued into 2006.
To further investigate Harris ’ activities, the investigators utilized an informant who was acquainted with Harris. As described in the affidavit, the informant met with Harris, and the investigators made audio and video recordings of these encounters.
During a meeting and telephone conversations described in the affidavit, Harris attempted to recruit the informant to participate in a scheme to defraud lending institutions which would be financing real estate purchases.
According to the affidavit, the informant also asked if Harris would assist him in cocaine transactions. Harris readily agreed. During a meeting on February 22, 2006, Harris paid the informant $5,000 to assist the informant in purchasing three kilograms of cocaine for resale. On February 27, 2006, the informant repaid $5,000 to Harris along with an additional $2,500 representing his share of the profit. According to the indictment, at this meeting, the informant told Harris that, “ I ain ’ t getting nothing but three keys at a time. I made 2,000 off each one of them. ” The informant was telling Harris that he bought three kilograms of cocaine and resold them for a $2,000 profit on each kilogram
In addition, as described in the affidavit, Harris agreed to accompany the informant to deliver cocaine to a purchaser. During the February 22, 2006, meeting described in the affidavit, the informant asked Harris if he would be willing to participate in purchases of cocaine in Texas. According to the affidavit, the informant said that “ we can make about three good moves with the [expletive] white ” (referring to cocaine), and Harris replied, “ let ’ s go, what you waitin ’ on. ” Harris also said, “ [expletive] three, need to make about four or five trips to get them. ... I ’ m ready to rock and roll with it, man. ” Harris asked how much profit could be expected from three trips to Texas. According to the affidavit, the informant replied, “ depends on ... how many [expletive] keys we can get in that [expletive] per trip ” (referring to how many kilograms of cocaine they could fit in the vehicle). The informant also assured Harris that there would be little risk since if they were stopped Harris would simply have to show his police credentials and in any event the drugs would be in a hidden compartment in the vehicle. According to the affidavit, during the same meeting, Harris assured the informant that he had “ spots ” to store drugs, and he told the informant about a past incident in which he had an acquaintance store drugs for him.
As described in the affidavit, during the February 27 meeting, the informant told Harris that, “ I got a partner coming down from Nashville ... He ’ s going to get six keys ” (referring to six kilograms). The informant asked Harris to ride with him to the meeting place near Jackson, Tennessee, and he promised to pay Harris. The informant told Harris that, “ I can give you 500 off each key; that be 3000 ” (meaning that Harris would be paid $3,000 for helping to transport six kilograms of cocaine to the purchaser from Nashville). According to the affidavit, Harris agreed and asked that he be given one day notice before the deal. According to the affidavit, on March 2, 2006, the informant and Harris met in Memphis. Harris transferred the packages of supposed cocaine to a bag for delivery to the purchaser. A video recording was made of Harris transferring the packages to the bag. The packages actually contained sham cocaine. Harris and the informant then went to a truck stop near Jackson, Tennessee. Harris drove the van carrying the supposed cocaine. At the truck stop, they met the supposed drug purchaser, who was actually a DEA agent acting undercover. The bag containing the sham cocaine was given to the undercover agent, and Harris and the informant then returned to Memphis. Ted M. Williams is 43 years old and an officer with the Memphis Police Department. He was hired by the Memphis Police Department in 1994, and he is currently assigned to the Traffic Enforcement Unit. He is charged with violations of 18 U.S.C. § 641 (theft of government property), 18 U.S.C. § 2 (aiding and abetting) and 21 U.S.C. § 846 (attempted possession of a controlled substance). The affidavit is attached to the complaint against Williams and describes the basis for the charges and the underlying investigation. According to the affidavit, Williams had a series of discussions with an informant regarding robbing drug dealers . The conversations were recorded. The informant said he worked with Mexican drug dealers and would be in possession of their money and drugs. According to the affidavit, on October 24, 2005, Williams asked the informant if he wanted to do it, and the informant told Williams that he would be driving a vehicle and Williams could stop it and take the money. As described in the affidavit, they then planned a theft. On November 9, 2005, Williams (who was in uniform and using a police department vehicle) stopped a car being driven by the informant, which contained $10,000 in government funds placed there by government agents. The affidavit alleges that Williams removed the money, and this was recorded on videotape. Later, on or about November 10, 2005, Williams and the informant met and Williams gave the informant $5,000, representing the informant ’ s share of the proceeds of the theft. As described in the affidavit, this meeting was videotaped. According to the affidavit, Williams and the informant also discussed a plan to burglarize a hotel room to steal money from a drug dealer. During a telephone conversation on or about January 17, 2006, Williams suggested letting the dealers sell the drugs first because he did not want to do the theft unless there would be some cash. During a telephone conversation on or about February 1, 2006, the informant told Williams that the Mexican drug dealers had gone to Forrest City to sell “green” (marijuana), and during another telephone conversation on or about February 6, 2006, the informant told Williams that the drug dealers would be coming in late that night. On February 7, 2006, the informant and Williams planned the theft from a hotel room. According to the affidavit, after the meeting, Williams, dressed in police raid gear, went to the hotel, entered the room and removed a Bud Light case that contained approximately $9,000 in government funds + this was recorded on videotape. As described in the affidavit, later that evening, the informant called Williams, and Williams indicated there was only $7,000 in the room. As described in the affidavit, Williams also agreed to escort a shipment of drugs. The affidavit alleges that, on or about March 23, 2006, the informant had a telephone conversation, the informant told Williams that the “Mexicans” were on their way, and Williams warned that they should avoid the north loop of Interstate 40 to avoid teams of law enforcement officers. According to the affidavit, on or about March 27, 2006, the informant called Williams and told him that the Mexicans were traveling on Interstate 40 and that they were waiting for word that Williams was in place. Williams replied that he needed twelve to fifteen minutes. In a later telephone conversation described in the affidavit, Williams arranged with the informant a means so that the Mexicans would know he was the right police officer, and Williams asked about payment. A few minutes later, a surveillance team observed Williams driving on Interstate 40 and acting as an escort. According to the affidavit, later that day, Williams and the informant spoke again by telephone. The informant asked Williams if he had anyone helping him. Williams responded that he runs the whole interstate crew and that he didn ’ t need any help, and he commented that this was better because no one else was in the position to share the money or inform on them. As described in the affidavit, on or about April 13, 2006, the informant and Williams had a face-to-face meeting at a restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, at which time the informant paid Williams $500 for escorting the shipment of “ drugs ” through Memphis on Interstate 40.
THE POSSIBLE PENALTIES
Harris is charged with violating 21 U.S.C. § 846, which makes it a crime to attempt to violate the Controlled Substances Act. That offense is punishable in this case, which involves over five kilograms of cocaine, by a minimum prison term of ten years and a maximum term of life, a $4,000,000 maximum fine, plus five years supervised release, and a $100 special assessment. Williams is charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 641, which makes the theft of government property a crime. This offense is punishable by up to ten years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Williams is also charged with violating 21 U.S.C. § 846, by assisting what he believed to be an effort to transport drugs. That offense, under the circumstances of this case, is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tom Colthurst and Joe Murphy, with the Memphis office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.