United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Corvain T. Cooper, 34, of Inglewood, Calif., was sentenced today to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr., for his role as a source of supply in a drug conspiracy involving marijuana trafficking and financial crimes, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta and the Carolinas and Chief Rodney D. Monroe of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
According to court documents and court proceedings, from in or about 2004 through January 2013, Cooper was involved in a drug conspiracy that trafficked marijuana from California to the Charlotte area. Court records show that Cooper was charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least one thousand kilograms of marijuana as well as money laundering conspiracy and structuring financial transactions through banking institutions to avoid IRS reporting requirements. Cooper, along with two co-defendants, Evelyn LaChapelle and Natalia Wade, were convicted of all charges on October 18, 2013, following a three-day trial.
According to filed documents and evidence presented at trial, the marijuana was shipped to the Charlotte area in commercial crate shipments and overnight packages. Trial evidence established that the conspiracy involved more than 35 tons of marijuana being shipped to Charlotte and millions of dollars of laundered proceeds funneled back to the sources of supply in California. Cooper, who possessed firearms during some drug-related transactions, received a mandatory life sentence because of the drug amount involved and two prior felony drug convictions in California.
Cooper has been in custody since his arrest in California on January 28, 2013. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation to a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
LaChapelle and Wade have been in custody since their October 2013 conviction and are currently awaiting sentencing.
This prosecution is part of an extensive Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation code-named “Goldilocks” that has resulted in the conviction of more than 55 defendants for marijuana trafficking, money laundering, and firearms violations over the past five years. OCDETF is a joint federal, state and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.
The investigation was led by HSI and CMPD, assisted by the Gastonia Police Department, the Concord Police Department, the Mooresville Police Department, the Pineville Police Department, the Huntersville Police Department, the Kannapolis Police Department, the Cornelius Police Department, the Waxhaw Police Department, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, the Union County Sheriff’s Office, and the Beverly Hills and Culver City, California Police Departments.
The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.