Operation Gang Strike Results in 13 Year Prison Sentence
MAY 25 -- Portland, Ore. – U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Jones sentenced James Ray “Lonnie” Yoakum, 58, of Portland, Oregon on May 24, 2010 to 13 years in federal prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine. Upon his release from prison, he will also be required to serve five years of supervised release. On February 4, 2010, Yoakum pled guilty to the charge.
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Paul W. Schmidt stated, “This positive outcome is the result of Portland Policing Agencies and Departments working together with Portland community and prevention groups to better our lives and neighborhoods.”
In December 2008, officers and agents with the M etro Gang Task Force started Operation Gang Strike, an investigation targeting criminal organizations and gang members responsible for dealing firearms and selling large amounts of both crack and powder cocaine in the Portland metropolitan area. The investigation, which eventually resulted in the federal indictments of 24 individuals, revealed that James Ray “Lonnie” Yoakum was the head of a large-scale cocaine trafficking organization. As the leader of this operation the defendant would obtain kilograms of cocaine from sources in California and Oregon and then distribute the cocaine, either by himself or with the assistance of others, to large and mid-level dealers in the Portland metropolitan area. This cocaine distribution organization included people affiliated with local street gangs. Through the use of Court authorized wiretaps, the government was able to show that the defendant was responsible for the distribution and possession with the intent to distribute between 5 and 15 kilograms of powder cocaine. The defendant was arrested in September 2009.
In imposing the sentence, Judge Jones noted that the defendant was a “gang leader” who was the “brains” behind a large drug trafficking conspiracy responsible for “polluting this community with cocaine and crack cocaine.” The Court further stated that the sentence was warranted, in part, to deter others from similar conduct.
The investigation was conducted by the Metro Gang Task Force, which is comprised of the United States Attorney’s Office, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office, the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, and law enforcement officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Portland Police Bureau, Gresham Police Department, Milwaukie Police Department, Beaverton Police Department, Tigard Police Department, and the Hillsboro Police Department. The Drug Enforcement Administration was a substantial partner along with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Portland Police Bureau Gang Enforcement Team, the Portland Police Bureau Drugs and Vice Division, Washington County’s Westside Interagency Narcotics (WIN) Task Force, the Regional Organized Crime and Narcotics (ROCN) Task Force, and Oregon Department of Human Services.