Monday, May 10, 2011
Department of Justice
United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee
SAN FRANCISCO-TO-KNOXVILLE COCAINE TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION DISMANTLED
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– Fifteen individuals have pleaded guilty to charges relating to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and money laundering. A lengthy multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency investigation exposed a large-scale cocaine trafficking organization in Knoxville that received multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine through the United States Postal Service from multiple sources of supply located in San Francisco, Cal., and surrounding areas. U.S. Postal Service shipping records show that this organization trafficked approximately 185 kilograms of cocaine from California to Tennessee. At approximately $24,000 per kilogram, the conspiracy generated nearly $4.4 million. The investigation also revealed that the Knoxville members of the organization shipped bulk-cash drug proceeds back to the sources of supply in California through the U.S. mail.
Raynard Davis, Horace Johnson, Curtis Ross, Tamara Walker, and Rachel Madison, all of California; and, Michael Jefferson, Darnell Houston, Vereda Desiree Raiteri, Gavin Raiteri, Stacy Hurley, Sherri Ann Stouffer, Jessika Rucker, Enrico Hawkins, Marquis Love and Calvin Strickland, all of the Knoxville area, were indicted and pleaded guilty to violating federal drug laws.
Recently, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas A. Varlan sentenced the two main California suppliers, Davis and Ross, and the main Knoxville supplier, Jefferson. Judge Varlan sentenced Davis to24 years in federal prison and 10 years of supervised release. Ross was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison and 10 years of supervised release; additionally, as part of his sentence, Ross forfeited to the United States nine homes located in Ohio and Missouri. Jefferson was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison and five years of supervised release. Several remaining defendants are awaiting sentencing.
The dismantlement of this drug trafficking organization was the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as well as local law enforcement agencies here and in California. Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Lewen, Jr., represented the United States.
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian praised the cooperative efforts of the agencies involved in this investigation. He said “The work of these agencies has resulted in severe sentences for the main organizers of this drug conspiracy. We are sending a message to drug dealers operating in the Eastern District of Tennessee - Your illegal activity better be worth 20 or more years of your life.”
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented on the pleas, “These guilty pleas are a direct result achieved only through the dedicated efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement. The distribution of cocaine continues to ravage many communities. A number of communities are now much safer because these individuals have been removed from the streets.”
Darryl Williams, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Nashville Field Office stated, “We are pleased that another drug ring has been destroyed. The best way to dismantle these organizations is through money laundering charges and asset forfeiture. Taking away assets from these illegal organizations hits the criminals where it hurts the most – their pocketbook, thus depriving them of their profits. This investigation is an example of the successes that can be achieved when local and federal law enforcement agencies join forces.”
Martin D. Phanco, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division stated, “The U.S. Postal Service has no interest in being the unwitting accomplice to anyone using the U.S. mail to distribute illegal drugs. Postal Inspectors’ primary objectives are to rid the mail of illicit drug trafficking, preserve the integrity of the mail and, most important, provide a safe environment for postal employees and the American public.”
The case was brought as a part of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy that attacks major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.