FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 27, 2014
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Maryland Man Sentenced to Life in Prison
For Conspiring to Distribute Cocaine
-Evidence at Trial Included Nearly 30 Kilograms of Cocaine, Found in a Storage Locker-
WASHINGTON – Gezo G. Edwards, 40, formerly of Silver Spring, Md., was sentenced today to life in prison for conspiring to distribute large quantities of cocaine in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Edwards and two others – William M. Bowman, 35, and Henry B. Williams, 33 - were found guilty of the drug conspiracy charge in November 2012, following a five-week trial in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The three defendants were among 14 people indicted in 2011, following one of the largest recent seizures of cocaine in the area.
Bowman, formerly of Bowie, Md., was sentenced in April 2013 to a 45-year prison term. Williams, of Glenn Dale, Md., was sentenced in February 2013 to a 51-month prison term.
The Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Edwards this morning. In sentencing the defendant, Judge Kollar-Kotelly cited the seriousness of the offenses, as well as Edwards’s use of a firearm, and his attempted tampering with a juror during the trial. She also ordered that Edwards pay a $3 million forfeiture money judgment and turn over more than $360,000 in cash and bank accounts that were seized as proceeds of the drug conspiracy.
“Gezo Edwards trafficked millions of dollars of cocaine from Los Angeles into local D.C. neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “He profited from the addictions that destroy lives and tear apart families. Today he will begin paying the price for the irreparable pain that his drug trafficking caused our community.”
“Today, Gezo Edwards faced the consequences of taking part in a large-scale cocaine trafficking conspiracy,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave. “This case took out a group that brought more than $3 million worth of cocaine into the District of Columbia and Maryland, and demonstrates the FBI’s continued dedication to large-scale investigations that target traffickers in the drug supply chain.”
“The defendants in this case were major traffickers of narcotics to the D.C. Metropolitan area,” said Chief Lanier. “Through the coordinated efforts of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Narcotics and Special Investigations Division, along with our FBI partners, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we have reduced the availability of drugs in this region and taken criminals off our streets.”
The indictments in the case, returned in April 2011, followed a 15-month investigation by the FBI and MPD into people suspected of acting as wholesale distributors of cocaine in the metropolitan area. The investigation determined that from January 2009 through April 2011, the defendants and others maintained a drug trafficking organization that supplied distribution amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine to dealers in the District of Columbia and Maryland.
The investigation revealed that Edwards and Bowman obtained large quantities of cocaine from sources in the Los Angeles area, which they transported back to the Washington, D.C. area for redistribution to wholesale traffickers, including Williams.
In April 2011, investigators learned that members of the defendants’ organization had arranged for a large shipment of cocaine to the area, and that they were storing it in a storage facility in Hyattsville, Md. After obtaining a search warrant, law enforcement searched the locker and recovered 29.5 kilograms of cocaine, nearly two kilograms of crack cocaine, several firearms, including an assault rifle, and packaging material, which included wrappings with cocaine residue that indicated that at least 60 additional kilograms of cocaine had passed through the storage facility and onto the streets of the Metropolitan Washington area. The cocaine had an estimated wholesale value of $1 million and an estimated street value of more than $3 million.
All told, 11 people have pled guilty to charges in the investigation. Edwards, Bowman, and Williams were the only defendants to stand trial.
During the trial, evidence was developed that Edwards was engaging in unauthorized and improper communications with a juror in attempt to influence the juror’s deliberations. As a result, the judge today imposed a sentencing enhancement on Edwards for obstruction of justice.
The prosecution grew out of the efforts of the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a multi-agency team that conducts comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the nationwide program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge Parlave, 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. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, the FBI’s Baltimore Division, and the Prince George’s County and Montgomery County police departments, which provided assistance. They cited the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Paralegal Specialists Jeanette Litz, Regan Gibson, and Starla Stolk; former Paralegal Specialist Jeremy Stoller; and Litigation Support Specialist Ron Royal.
Finally, they acknowledged the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Debra Long-Doyle and Steven B. Wasserman of the Violent Crime and Narcotics Trafficking Section, and Zia M. Faruqui, of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, who prosecuted the case.14-049