Member of Opa-Locka Drug Gang Sentenced on Narcotics and Gun Charges
JAN 08 -- MIAMI - Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division, Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, James K. Loftus, Interim Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, and Rodney Ballentine, Chief, City of Opa-Locka Police Department, announced the sentencing of the final defendant in Operation Cold Turkey. On January 5, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks sentenced defendant Erick Hinds to 248 months in prison, following his October 2009 trial on gun and drug charges in connection with a drug trafficking gang that operated in the City of Opa-Locka. Hinds was arrested on December 17, 2008, after he violently resisted arrest, and was himself shot and wounded by Miami Dade Police Officers executing a search warrant.
This sentencing effectively concludes Operation Cold Turkey, a two-year investigation that resulted in charges against 17 defendants in connection with drug trafficking. The investigation and prosecution resulted in the seizure of approximately 40 firearms, including assault weapons and machine guns, and a ballistics vest. Others charged and convicted were:
Vashawn I. Young: 135 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release;
According to statements made in court in the Hinds trial and in various guilty pleas, it is estimated that this gang trafficked in approximately 8,200 grams of marijuana, 560 grams of crack cocaine, 700 grams of powder cocaine, and 500 MDMA in just a one month period.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville stated, "Unfortunately, drugs and gangs go hand in hand. DEA will continue to stand up with our federal, state, and local counterparts to attack these violent drug trafficking organizations.
“Gangs and the guns and drugs that they bring are not welcome in Miami, and our prosecutions make that clear. If you are in a gang, if you sell drugs, and if you have a gun, you will face federal charges and a lengthy prison sentence,” stated U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman.
FBI Special Agent in Charge John Gillies added, “Through the combined efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors, this violent gang has been dismantled. Drugs and guns have a devastating effect on our communities and we will continue to work with our partners to make South Florida a safer place.”
“These gangs prey on our communities without regard to the damage they do or the lives they ruin. As residents of this community, we must reject this way of life,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Hugo Barrera. “We will not tolerate gang behavior, or that of anyone who uses firearms to wreak violence on law enforcement and on our community. Our message is simple. We will not go away; we will continue to investigate and prosecute gang members and felons who commit acts of violence using guns.”
James K. Loftus, Interim Director for the Miami-Dade Police Department stated, “This should be a wake-up call to gang members and criminals that their actions will not go unnoticed. We will not rest until people such as Mr. Hinds are held responsible and brought to justice. With our continued partnership with our law enforcement allies, we are accomplishing this goal.”
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