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Release No. 10-166
November 16, 2010
FEDERAL GRAND JURY INDICTS 14 FOR SHIPPING HUNDREDS OF POUNDS OF COCAINE FROM LOS ANGELES TO BALTIMORE
Ring Allegedly Used Private Jets to Send Drugs East and Return Proceeds to L.A.
LOS ANGELES – Capping a seven-month investigation into an operation that allegedly used chartered jets to ship hundreds of pounds of cocaine to Baltimore in recent weeks, a federal grand jury today indicted 14 defendants on drug trafficking and money laundering charges that could send the defendants to prison for the rest of their lives.
Operation “Snow Bird,” which was conducted by a task force of federal and local law enforcement authorities, focused on a Hollywood-based drug trafficking ring that allegedly purchased large quantities of cocaine, arranged for the narcotics to be flown on private jets from the Los Angeles area to Baltimore, oversaw distribution of the cocaine in the Baltimore area, and flew suitcases full of cash back to Los Angeles.
During a six-week period that concluded with the arrest of five defendants two weeks ago, investigators obtained evidence that the organization was responsible for moving more than 390 kilograms of cocaine and well over $4 million in drug cash, according to court documents. During the six-week period, investigators intercepted and seized approximately 298 kilograms of cocaine and $1.1 million in cash.
The indictment returned this afternoon by the federal grand jury names 14 defendants. They are:
Ricky James Brascom, as known as “DP,” 28, formerly of Hollywood and now residing in Woodland Hills, the “CEO” of Behind da Scenes Entertainment and the alleged leader of the drug trafficking ring;
Charles Dwight Ransom Jr., 36, of Hollywood, another “CEO” of Behind da Scenes Entertainment who allegedly shipped cocaine to his own distributors in Baltimore and shepherded cocaine shipments for Brascom;
Darrin Ebron, 43, a DJ who moves between Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, and who allegedly acted as a drug distributor for Brascom;
Heriberto Lopez, also known as “The Boss” and “Big Dog,” 42, of Chatsworth, who allegedly was Brascom's primary cocaine supplier;
Leonardo Concepcion, 50, of Downey, a pilot allegedly hired by Brascom to fly loads of cocaine to Baltimore and drug proceeds back to Los Angeles;
Jerome Mondale Brascom (Ricky Brascom’s brother), also known as “Bro-Bro,” 30, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who was allegedly his brother’s top lieutenant, assisting in the distribution and storage of cocaine in Baltimore, as well as collecting drug proceeds;
Marlon Parris, 30, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who allegedly accompanied a shipment of drugs to Baltimore and a shipment of drug proceeds to Los Angeles on a commercial flight;
Steven Velazquez, 31, of San Fernando, an alleged courier for Lopez, who was arrested on October 30 after Sheriff deputies found 120 kilograms of cocaine in a vehicle he was driving;
Alberto Cruzado, 57, of Sylmar, an alleged courier for Lopez who was taken into custody along with Velazquez; and
five unnamed defendants, all of whom allegedly distributed cocaine for Brascom in Baltimore.
The Brascom brothers, Concepcion, Velazquez and Cruzado were previously taken into custody and were initially charged in a criminal complaint filed in United States District Court. The remaining named defendants are fugitives who are currently being sought by authorities. Investigators continue to work to identify the five defendants named in the indictment as “FNU LNU” – First Name Unknown, Last Name Unknown.
“The individuals indicted today have been brought to justice as the result of the joint effort by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies spanning from Los Angeles to Baltimore,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum. “This operation demonstrates the poisoning lure of drugs and money that continue to impact our communities.”
The indictment filed today lists a series of incidents involving large shipments of cocaine and money between the Los Angeles area to Baltimore. The indictment specifically alleges that:
The Brascom brothers flew with $1.245 million drug cash proceeds on a chartered flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles on September 21;
Ransom possessed 48 kilograms of cocaine in two suitcases that were seized by authorities on September 28 when the jet he flew in stopped to refuel at the Salina Municipal Airport in Kansas;
Ebron received 40 kilograms of cocaine sent by Ricky Brascom on September 28;
Lopez went to Brascom’s apartment complex in Hollywood on September 21 to pick up his share of approximately $1.2 million in drug proceeds that had been flown in from Baltimore;
Parris possessed 118 kilograms of cocaine during an October 1 flight from Los Angeles to Baltimore on a plane piloted by Concepcion;
Parris was carrying nearly a quarter million dollars in cash on October 7 when the money was seized by authorities at the Phoenix International Airport;
During a traffic stop on October 30, authorities seized approximately 120 kilograms of cocaine and nearly $10,000 in cash from Cruzado and Velazquez, who were allegedly transporting the drugs on behalf of Lopez to Ricky Brascom , and later seized another 30 kilograms of cocaine and numerous firearms in a storage unit rented by Velazquez;
The organization shipped approximately 34 kilograms of cocaine to Baltimore and brought drug proceeds back to Los Angeles on October 31 and November 1; and
Concepcion flew J. Brascom to Ontario International Airport on November 2, when authorities seized $763,815 in drug proceeds in a suitcase, another $24,366 hidden in a backpack, and $40,000 hidden in the plane's microwave oven.
In addition to the narcotics and cash seized, authorities seized a number of vehicles linked to the drug ring, including two 2010 Aston Martin Rapides, a 2008 Mercedes CL63 AMG, and a 2009 BMW 750Li.
The seven-count indictment specifically charges conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, conspiracy to launder money, and felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of items related to the alleged drug conspiracy, including cash and weapons.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The Brascom brothers, Concepcion, Velazquez, and Cruzado are scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on Monday.
Operation Snow Bird was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ventura County Combined Agency Team (VCAT), the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Air & Marine Operations Center (AMOC).
Release No. 10-166
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