News and Press Releases


May 16, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis announced today the conviction of Dr. Owusu A. Firempong, age 60, of Los Angeles, California, on cocaine and money laundering conspiracy charges involving the trafficking of thousands of kilograms of cocaine between California and Michigan starting in the late 1990s and continuing into 2007. After 11 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, 2011, a jury sitting in Kalamazoo, Michigan returned two guilty verdicts against Dr. Firempong and one against co-defendant Marlan McRae, age 37, of Detroit, who, unlike Dr. Firempong, was only named in the cocaine conspiracy charge. The jury acquitted California resident Roberto Juan Farias, Jr., who was charged in the cocaine conspiracy count. The three-week trial before Chief U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney, which commenced on April 26, 2011, included testimony from several drug kingpins responsible for trafficking several thousand kilograms of cocaine between Los Angeles and Detroit, a significant portion of which was later sold in and around the Lansing, Michigan area between 2001 and 2006 by a street gang called AHH DEE AHH. Federal prosecution of AHH DEE AHH began in 2005, resulting in the conviction of 27 members and associates, including its Detroit-based leaders, Jamokentayette Curtis Hampton and Damond Dshan Bean, and its New York/New Jersey-based heroin supplier, Daniel Hankinson. In 2007, U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell sentenced Hampton to 29 years in prison, Bean, to 22 years, and Hankinson to 15 years in prison.

Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Lansing Police Department followed the cocaine and money trails back to Detroit, the
Central District of California, and the State of Nevada where 27 additional defendants have been identified and indicted in the Western District of Michigan as part of “Operation Holiday Express.” Dr. Firempong and Marlan McRae are the final two defendants convicted. One defendant, Samuel Collins, 47, of Los Angeles, California, is a fugitive and remains at large.

As described in the Third Superseding Indictment, two separate California-based drug trafficking organizations used tractor trailers and a variety of vehicles, including motor homes, to transport thousands of kilograms of cocaine to Michigan. In 2003, Dr. Firempong obtained over $200,000 of drug proceeds from Charles Jackson, Sr., age 47, of Los Angeles, one of the California kingpins, to purchase one of the motor homes for one of the drug trafficking organizations. Dr. Firempong used his various corporate healthcare bank accounts to launder these drug proceeds, structuring the cash into these accounts and ultimately purchasing a 2003 Revolution motor home for the drug trafficking organization, which was then used to transport the cocaine and millions of dollars of drug proceeds on a monthly basis between California and Michigan.

In October 2009, Chief Judge Maloney sentenced Alvin Keith Jackson, age 45, of Los Angeles, California, to 235 months in prison, and on November 8, 2010, he sentenced Charles Jackson, Sr., to life in prison. Sentencing dates have not yet been set for Dr. Firempong and Marlan McRae.

ATF and the Lansing Police Department investigated the case, along with the Great
Lakes Regional OCDETF Office in Chicago, Illinois, and analysts from the National Drug
Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Lansing Police Chief Teresa Szymanski commented that “the successful prosecution in this case is a testament to the positive law enforcement partnerships between local, state, and federal agencies. We at the Lansing Police Department are honored to have been part of this strong partnership.”

Operation Holiday Express was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brian P. Lennon and Joel S. Fauson.


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