CRACK NIGHTMARE FINALLY OVER
DEC 18 CHICAGO, IL - The Chicago area suburb of Chicago Heights, Illinois, saw the end of a crack cocaine ring today with the conviction of six local impact drug violators who were found guilty of drug and gun charges. The trial of the Troy Lawrence 'crack cocaine distribution organization' was the final chapter in a DEA investigation known as Operation New Jack City. Lawrence, a.k.a "Nino Brown," had a strangle hold on local citizens, running a crack cocaine distribution network that was infamous for operating twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, within the Claude Court-HUD Housing Complex. Just next door, at the Dr. Charles E. Gavin Elementary School, children were kept indoors at all times to shield them from the potential safety hazards of drug dealers that lurked outside their building. The defendants in this case were dangerous and commonly known to be armed with weapons such as a .50 Caliber pistol and a Tech-9 machine gun.
The ‘open-air’ drug market located in the Claude Court neighborhood at 5th Street, was a multi-million dollar moneymaker for Lawrence and his cronies. The investigation was initiated with some simple ‘heads up’ police work by Chicago Heights tactical officers when a street stop yielded approximately $13,000 in United States Currency and $56,000 in jewelry from Lawrence in July 2000. The seizure led to an elaborate twenty-month investigation that utilized a multitude of investigative techniques including wiretaps on the defendants’ telephones.
Two drug transport vehicles contained secret compartments that could only be operated by hidden, interior electronic switches were used to bring drugs into the neighborhood without detection. One of these vehicles a 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix was seized during the investigation and the second a 1992 Buick Regal was seized following the arrests.
Ten undercover purchases of crack cocaine were made during the investigation that yielded the sum total of 479.2 grams of powder cocaine and a collective 172.4 grams of crack cocaine from assorted members of the Lawrence distribution organization. Additional information developed during the investigation resulted in seven vehicle stops and the additional seizure of 703 grams of crack cocaine. Following Lawrence’s arrest in March 2002, additional weapons and other counter-surveillance equipment, including night vision goggles and two-way radios were seized along with $250,000 in cash and almost 500 grams of crack. The night vision equipment and radio communication devices were used to help the Lawrence gang members elude police in the area.
The crack cocaine exhibits consisted of eight purchases ranging from .2 grams to 47.7 grams - all of which consisted of rock cocaine and was individually packaged in small zip-lock bags. The street value, per dosage unit, was approximately $10 and consisted of approximately .2 of a gram per individual dosage. The powder cocaine exhibits consisted of two purchases of 27 grams and 279.8 grams that were packaged in plastic bags. The street value of the powder cocaine was approximately $100 per gram and was purchased by DEA agents in bulk quantities.
The sources of supply for this operation, John Tomaszewski and Mark Conner acted independently and were both arrested in July 2002 and have since pleaded guilty. The ‘Operation New Jack City’ investigation also uncovered the street level distribution hierarchy of Lawrence’s network that consisted of over 22 operatives who were arrested along with him in March 2002. LAWRENCE, 28, of Hammond, Indiana was arrested, but chose to go to trial on the charges with six others: Clarence L. IRONS a.k.a "Beanie,” 31, of Chicago Heights; Kent CLARK a.k.a "Big Daddy," 43, of Dolton, Illinois; Stacia SMITH, 29, of Lynwood, Illinois; Nyroby SEYMOUR a.k.a "Molly," 24, of Chicago Heights; Andre SEYMOUR a.k.a "Nick," 26, of Chicago Heights; and Andre Lawrence a.k.a. “Doc,” 30, of Chicago, Illinois. All charged with drug violations and were convicted today with the exception of Irons, who was acquitted by the jury on all counts.
The remaining operatives of the Lawrence gang have pleaded guilty prior to the trial and are: Montell GOINGS a.ka. "Bug,” 26, of Chicago Heights; Mark CONNER a.k.a "Big X," 30, of Chicago, Illinois; Kenneth BLAIR a.k.a "Kenny," 37, of Chicago Heights; Ninja PALMS a.k.a "Shug," 30, of Ford Heights, Illinois; Tasha DEERE a.k.a "Rumpy,” 23, of Chicago Heights; Levert GRIFFIN a.k.a "LT," 25, of Ford Heights, Illinois; Cameron WILSON a.k.a "Big Cam,” 28, of Chicago Heights; Tondelya HOLLINS a.k.a "Toni," 32, of Calumet City, Illinois; Green SALLIS a.k.a "Mufasa,” 28, of Park Forest, Illinois; Paris LAWRENCE a.k.a "Pooh," 24, of Chicago Heights; Horance WHITE a.k.a "Holy," 29, of Chicago Heights; Marcello DUNCAN a.k.a "Chello," 23, of Sauk Village, Illinois; Darren STEWART a.k.a "Mouse," 25, of Chicago Heights; Jemell C.Young a.k.a. "Smelly," 20 of Chicago Heights; William KELLY a.k.a "Bill," 44, of Chicago Heights; John Tomaszewski a.k.a. “Honest John,” 35 , Crete, IL; and Antwuan Williams a.k.a. “Twauny,” 25 , of Chicago Heights.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA / HIDTA Task Force. Agencies also assisting in the investigation were the Chicago Heights Police Department (CHPD), Chicago Police Department (CPD), the Cook County Sheriff’s Police (CCSPD), the Illinois State Police (ISP); the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF); the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and, the United States Marshal Service (USMS).
The defendants were charged and prosecuted by the Assistant United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. The charges consisted of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute, under 21USC841(a)(1), and Conspiracy to Possess a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute, under 21USC846 and with assorted weapons charges. The sentencing for those guilty were scheduled for a future dates - and - are subject to Federal sentencing guidelines which include minimum of 10 years to a maximum life imprisonment and are further subject to enhancement for the associated weapons violations.