FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 21, 2012
For Information Contact:
District Man Sentenced to More Than 14 Years in Prison
For Conspiracy and Firearms Charges
Following Investigation into Drug Trafficking Ring
- He and Others Operated Near Seventh and O Streets NW, Other Locations -
WASHINGTON - Espey Brown, Jr., 38, was sentenced today to 14 years and two months in prison on federal charges stemming from his role in a drug trafficking ring that operated in the Washington, D.C. area, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Brown, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in February 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base and one count of using, carrying and possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking offense. He was sentenced by the Honorable Reggie B. Walton. Upon completion of his prison term, Brown will be placed on five years of supervised release.
As part of his plea, Brown agreed to join others convicted in the case in the forfeiture of $1 million as proceeds constituting or derived from the drug trafficking activities.
Brown was among 17 people arrested last year following their indictments in August 2011 on conspiracy and other charges. The indictments followed a nearly three-year investigation by the FBI and MPD into the trafficking of cocaine, cocaine base, and marijuana.
Twelve of these defendants have pled guilty to charges, including one man who entered his plea today. That defendant, Walter Lybrant Hayman, 48, of Glenn Dale, Md., pled guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge; he is to be sentenced by Judge Walton on Oct. 19, 2012.
Brown’s principal drug supplier, Keith Gaston, 40, also is among those pleading guilty in the case. Gaston was sentenced last month to a prison term of 11 years and three months.
The ring’s activities primarily occurred in the area surrounding Seventh and O Streets NW, in the District’s Shaw neighborhood, and in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Brown was arrested on Aug. 9, 2011, and has been in custody ever since.
Following the return of the indictment, law enforcement officers executed a series of arrest and search warrants in the District of Columbia and Maryland during the early morning hours of Aug. 9, 2011, confiscating approximately one-half kilogram of cocaine, one-quarter kilogram of crack cocaine, and one pound of marijuana. In addition, the officers seized four vehicles, more than $600,000 in cash, and six firearms, including two machine pistols.
As part of his guilty plea, Brown admitted that between June 2008 and August 2011 he was engaged in a conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine and crack cocaine. More specifically, he supplied powder cocaine and crack cocaine to street-level dealers who then sold the drugs to users in the Northwest Washington neighborhood that encompassed the Kennedy Recreation Center and nearby apartment complexes.
“Espey Brown brought the volatile combination of drugs and guns to Shaw, putting its residents in danger,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “A 14-year sentence is just punishment for the harm he inflicted on our community. His conviction – one of a dozen in this case – sends a powerful message about the futility and stupidity of selling drugs in the District.”
“Drug suppliers, like Mr. Brown, ply their illegal trade to street-level dealers in our neighborhoods, which threatens the safety and security of our communities,” said Assistant Director McJunkin. “The FBI, with our law enforcement partners, is focused on stopping the movement and sale of drugs on our streets and will bring those who profit from it to justice.”
“The drug trafficking ring detracted from the quality of life in this neighborhood,” said Police Chief Lanier. “Residents in the Shaw community often comment to me about how troubled their neighborhood used to be and how it has changed for the better. This is an example of how the Metropolitan Police Department and our law enforcement partners are making a difference.”
The prosecution grew out of an FBI/MPD alliance called the Safe Streets Task Force. The Safe Streets Initiative involves more than 150 Safe Streets Task Forces around the country that combat street gangs by combining federal, state and local police resources. The task forces, which began in 1992 in Los Angeles and the District of Columbia, address gang activity including drug-related crimes. Sharing resources, manpower and intelligence allows federal prosecutors to focus on securing the maximum sentences and penalties for gang members found guilty. By working through a Task Force, investigators can focus on the entire criminal enterprise, instead of the prosecution of individual gang members.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin and Chief Lanier commended the work of the FBI and MPD members of the task force who investigated the case. They also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Park Police, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and the Prince George’s County Police Department, all of which provided assistance. Finally, they cited the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth F. Whitted, Emily Scruggs, and Seth Adam Meinero. They also thanked the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is assisting in the investigation and prosecution.