Three Men Found Guilty of Drug Conspiracy Charges Involving Open Drug Market from D.C. Barbershop
Firearms, Drugs, and Cash Seized by Law Enforcement
WASHINGTON - Three men have been found guilty by a jury of federal narcotics charges following an investigation into a drug market that was operated out of the Next Level Cuts barbershop and surrounding property in Southeast Washington.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Anthony Fields, 45, of Washington, D.C., Lonnell Tucker, 42, of Temple Hills, Md., and Abdul Samuels, 45, of Washington, D.C., were found guilty on March 21, 2019, following a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. All three were found guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute phencyclidine (PCP), heroin, fentanyl, buprenorphine (suboxone), marijuana, and synthetic cannabinoids. Fields also was found guilty of six additional narcotics offenses and Samuels was found guilty of two additional narcotics offenses and a firearms charge. The Honorable Amit P. Mehta has not yet scheduled sentencing dates for the defendants.
A fourth defendant was found not guilty by the jury. A fifth, Lacy Hamilton, 42, of Camp Springs, Md., pled guilty during the trial to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a detectable amount of heroin, marijuana, and synthetic cannabinoids. Judge Mehta scheduled his sentencing for May 16, 2019.
As established at trial, in June 2017, ATF began investigating the trafficking of narcotics from the Next Level Cuts barbershop and adjoining property above. Through surveillance, controlled purchases from inside and outside the barbershop, residential search warrants, cellphone searches, arrests, jailhouse calls, pleas, and cooperating witnesses, law enforcement was able to establish a coordinated drug trafficking operation that was centered at the barbershop and extended into Maryland. The investigation established that drug traffickers would use the barbershop and adjoining property as a stash location.
The investigation led to a series of arrests beginning in February 2018 as well as the recovery of three firearms from the barbershop and one firearm in a residence. Law enforcement seized more than $7,000 in cash, and without packaging, more than 300 grams of PCP, more than 150 grams of heroin, more than 100 grams of fentanyl, boxes of suboxone strips, and more than 100 grams of a cutting agents. Samuels was convicted of narcotics and firearms charges relating to a search of his residence in Southeast Washington on May 10, 2018, in which ATF recovered a firearm, ammunition, extensive drug paraphernalia, and packaged crack cocaine.
During the trial, in addition to ATF and MPD agents and officers, current and former law enforcement officers from Prince George’s County, Md., and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority testified relating to separate arrests of Fields and Samuels in 2017 and 2018, respectively, in which law enforcement recovered various forms of drug paraphernalia, packaged narcotics, and U.S. currency.
Two other defendants – Darryl Smith, 41, of Washington, D.C., and James Venable, 47, of Fort Washington, Md., earlier pled guilty to federal charges. Another defendant remains at large as a fugitive. Smith managed the barber shop. Smith was sentenced to 80 months in prison relating to his possession of narcotics in the barbershop on Feb. 1, 2018 and for his possession of packaged fentanyl and a loaded firearm following an arrest by MPD in December 2017 outside of the barbershop. Venable was sentenced to a 37-month prison term following his possession of narcotics and a firearm in both Washington, D.C. during a December 2017 arrest by MPD and in his residence in Maryland on February 1, 2018. Venable also acknowledged selling narcotics to an ATF confidential informant in July 2017.
In announcing the verdicts, U.S. Attorney Liu, Special Agent in Charge Benedict, and Chief Newsham commended the work of those involved in the case. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who handled the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Macchiaroli and Gregory Rosen of the Violent Crime and Narcotics Trafficking Section, and Paralegal Specialist Candace Battle.