News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 4, 2006
For Information Contact,
Special Agent Ramona Sanchez
Public Information Officer
(602) 664-5725

Two Convicted In Major Interstate Drug Conspiracy

OCT 04 -- TUCSON, Ariz. - Mark Anthony Simmons, 35, and Ernest Ron Washington, 37, both of Tucson, AZ, were found guilty of drug violations by a federal jury in Tucson after a three week trial. The case was tried before United States District Court Judge David C. Bury.

Simmons was convicted of conspiracy and other narcotic violations related to the transport of illegal drugs from Arizona to Ohio, which was profitable enough for Simmons to purchase three 18- wheel semi tractor-trailers to transport the drugs. Simmons has a criminal history in Tucson involving weapon violations. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

Washington, who had a prior drug felony conviction, was convicted of conspiracy and one substantive drug violation. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison at sentencing.

U.S. Attorney for District of Arizona Paul K. Charlton said, “This case is the result of years of hard work by federal prosecutors working closely with DEA and numerous local jurisdictions throughout the country. We are grateful to all agencies involved.”

“The drug trade has become a losing proposition for traffickers. Together with our law enforcement partners, we have dismantled a significant drug trafficking organization and stripped them of their drug proceeds,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum. “We will continue to work closely to identify and target destructive drug trafficking organizations that plague our communities with dangerous drugs”.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officials seized approximately 1,500 pounds of marijuana while it was being transported between Arizona and Ohio. The evidence at trial showed that the defendants used rental cars and later semi tractor- trailers to transport the drugs to Ohio in 2003 and 2004. Three kilograms of cocaine seized at an airport in Philadelphia were later traced back to the Simmons’ criminal organization, which has been linked to the crack cocaine trade involving gang organizations in Tucson.

A conviction for drug conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 40 years, a $2,000,000 fine or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Bury will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence. Sentencing is set before Judge Bury on December 14.

The investigation leading to the guilty verdict was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Pima County Sheriff’s Department in coordination with Apache County, Arizona Cooperative Enforcement Narcotics Team, St. Charles, Missouri Sheriff's Office, Foristell, Missouri Police Department, Missouri State Police, Arkansas State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Philadelphia Police Department, New Mexico State Police, Medina County, Ohio Drug Task Force, and DEA Philadelphia

The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James T. Lacey and Nicolle Krivda, District of Arizona, Tucson.

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