Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Department of Justice
United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee
FEDERAL JURY CONVICTS MEMBERS OF A MAJOR NEW YORK TO FLORIDA COCAINE TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION OPERATING IN THE TRI-CITIES AREA
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --Following a four-week trial in U.S. District Court, Greeneville, Tenn., a jury convicted Sunnah Maddox, Kelly Miller, Adrian Dorsey, Ronnie Cooper, Jason Dejesus, and Keith Ruffin of Utica, New York, and Lee Carr of Johnson City, Tenn., of numerous federal charges, including a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana, as well the distribution of illegal narcotics, firearms offenses, money laundering, and witness intimidation. Nine other co-conspirators have already entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing in U.S. District Court at Greeneville.
Sentencing hearings for those convicted today are set for April 5, 7, and May 3, 2011, in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Tenn., before the Honorable Leon Jordan. Maddox and Ruffin face mandatory life sentences without parole. Carr, Dorsey, Cooper, and Dejesus face sentences of up to life in prison. Miller faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
The evidence presented at trial consisted of the following: In February 2008, Johnson City Police Officers and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents arrested an individual who was known by local law enforcement agents to be part of a group of drug traffickers who had moved to Johnson City Tenn., from Utica, New York for the sole purpose of distributing cocaine and crack cocaine. A recorded telephone call from this individual monitored by law enforcement was made to Maddox to order a half-kilogram of cocaine. This led to the DEA obtaining a court-authorized wire tap for Maddox’s phone. Maddox operated his drug organization from his residences in both Johnson City, Tenn., and Utica, New York. Using coded conversation known as “Supreme Mathematics” over the telephone, Maddox and other members of the conspiracy recruited couriers to transport kilogram quantities of cocaine, as well as large amounts of United States currency from Johnson City, Tennessee, to Atlanta, Fla, and New York. The cocaine was then cooked into crack cocaine for distribution in the Johnson City, Tenn., area. During the investigation, agents conducted undercover drug purchases from members of the conspiracy, and made traffic stops on organization members which resulted in the seizure of tens of thousands of dollars. The investigation culminated in the execution of search warrants on May 7, 2009, during which approximately a kilo and a half of cocaine and over $21,000.0 were seized. Maddox, Dorsey and Miller were arrested. From jail, Maddox, communicated with a co-defendant whom he suspected of cooperating with law enforcement agents, and threatened to take action against this individual if he testified against him at trial. Maddox communicated this information to conspiracy members Cooper and Ruffin, and in a recorded conversation, Maddox announced a “green light” on this individual. A FBI cryptanalyst forensic examiner, who analyzed the coded conversations used by Maddox and other members of the conspiracy, testified at trial that the “green light” issued by Maddox during the telephone call was an order to kill this individual.
Evidence showed that Maddox’s organization was responsible for the distribution of over 40 kilograms of crack cocaine and dozens of kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride in the tri-cities area of upper East Tennessee.
United States Attorney Bill Killian stated, “We are pleased with the jury’s verdict. Our prosecutors and the law enforcement agencies working on this organization did a great job of obtaining and presenting the evidence in this case. We were able to show the scope of the drug distribution activities of this organization, including the flow of moneyand the violence that attaches to the illegal distribution of drugs. I want to thank all those involved in bringing these individuals to justice.”
Law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation which led to indictment and subsequent conviction of Sunnah Maddox, Lee Carr, Kelly Miller, Adrian Dorsey, Ronnie Cooper, Jason Dejesus, and Keith Ruffin included the DEA, Johnson City Police Department, Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Department, First Judicial District Drug Task Force, Tennessee Highway Patrol and various law enforcement officers in New York State including the New York State Police, the Utica, New York Police Department and New York DEA and FBI offices. Brian Vicchio, assigned to the DEA task force by the Johnson City Police Department was the lead investigator and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wayne Taylor and Robert Reeves represented the United States at trial.
This case was part of the Department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) programs. OCDETF is the primary weapon of the United States against the highest level drug trafficking organizations operating within the United States, importing drugs into the United States, or laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking. The HIDTA program enhances and coordinates drug control efforts among local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies. The program provides agencies with coordination, equipment, technology, and additional resources to combat drug trafficking and its harmful consequences in critical regions of the United States.