South Philadelphia Drug Delivery Service Operators, Known as the “Friends,” Convicted at Trial on All Counts
PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Antoine Clark, 30, Gerald Spruell, 32, and Daniel Robinson, 36, all of Philadelphia, PA, were convicted after more than two weeks at trial of charges including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and distribution or possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and heroin arising from their operation of an almost around-the-clock drug delivery service for several years in South Philadelphia.
Between 2013 and 2016, the defendants and their co-conspirators, known as the “Friends” and “7th Street” drug trafficking group, delivered crack cocaine and heroin to customers along the 7th Street corridor in South Philadelphia using a shared drug phone. The defendants used the phone to take orders and communicate with customers; they would pass the phone off in shifts to keep their operation going almost 24 hours per day. FBI agents conducted surveillance and controlled purchases of narcotics from the defendants using audio and video recording devices. Agents recovered narcotics sold by the defendants after stopping their drug customers. During the course of the investigation, agents also intercepted phone calls and text messages from the shared drug phone, which documented the defendants’ illicit activities. Upon defendant Spruell’s arrest in June 2016, Philadelphia Police officers recovered a number of items related to drug trafficking, including two firearms and live rounds of ammunition.
“The defendants in this case ran a drug delivery operation akin to a ‘GrubHub’ or ‘UberEats’ for narcotics,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “But despite their ‘friendly’ moniker, they were no friends to this community. To the contrary, they jeopardized the safety of an entire neighborhood in South Philadelphia. This conviction marks the definitive end to their enterprise, and a new beginning for the 7th Street corridor.”
Each defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment, and a maximum of lifetime imprisonment.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Newcomer and Jason Grenell.