Leader of Drug Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty to Federal Drug Trafficking Charges and Bribery
Members of the Drug Trafficking Organization Received Cocaine Through the U.S. Mail and Bribed U.S. Postal Service Letter Carriers to Divert Mail Parcels Containing Kilograms of Narcotics to the DTO
Greenbelt, Maryland – Russell Stanley III, age 40, of Bowie, Maryland, pleaded guilty on March 31, 2021 to the federal charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, and bribery of a government official.
The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Special Agent in Charge Imari R. Niles of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, Assistant and Interim Chief Hector Velez of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to Stanley’s guilty plea, in August 2018 the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began a joint investigation regarding the importation of cocaine into Maryland through the United States mail. Investigators identified Stanley as the leader of the drug trafficking organization (DTO) in Maryland. Stanley admitted that he conspired with others to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine in Maryland. Stanley further admitted that he had others assisting him with facilitating his distribution of cocaine in Maryland. Among those Stanley DTO members was Jovan Kirk Louis Savage, age 35, of Bowie, who picked up cocaine parcels in exchange for $500 per parcel from Stanley and assisted with delivering proceeds of the drug sales to pay off Stanley’s drug debt.
The investigation revealed that two U.S. Postal Service (USPS) letter carriers, Zakiyya Holloman, age 37, of Middle River, Maryland and Maurice Vaughn, age 34, of Washington, D.C. agreed to divert U.S. Priority Mail parcels, containing cocaine, sent to addresses on their routes, to Stanley or a member of the Stanley DTO in exchange for money. Holloman serviced a route in Bowie from April 2017 to October 2019, and Vaughn serviced a route in Bowie from July 2018 to October 2019. As USPS letter carriers, Vaughn and Holloman were public officials and were expected, among other things, to deliver each package to the addressee at the proper address and to keep an accurate record of their deliveries. Holloman began diverting packages containing cocaine to Stanley in approximately April 2018, after being introduced to Stanley by a mutual acquaintance. Holloman received $500 from Stanley for each parcel diverted. Hollman diverted cocaine parcels on at least six occasions, receiving a total of at least $3,000 from Stanley. In an effort to conceal the scheme, Holloman scanned the parcels as delivered to the addressees, despite delivering those parcels to Stanley.
As detailed in the plea agreement, at least once a month from December 2018 until October 2019, Vaughn diverted a U.S. Priority Mail parcel containing two kilograms of cocaine to the Stanley DTO. Specifically, on February 15, 2019, Vaughn delivered to Stanley’s vehicle, a U.S. Priority Mail parcel containing two kilograms of cocaine addressed to a Bowie address on Vaughn’s postal route. After Vaughn delivered the parcel to Stanley’s vehicle, Vaughn was paid $200 via Cash App. Similarly, Vaughn delivered U.S. Priority Mail parcels containing two kilograms of cocaine each on August 29, 2019, and October 2, 2019. Savage picked up each of the parcels, conducting counter-surveillance to make sure that law enforcement was not in the area. Vaughn was paid $200 in exchange for diverting each of those cocaine parcels to the Stanley DTO. In an effort to conceal the scheme, Vaughn scanned the United States Priority Mail parcels as delivered to the addressees, despite delivering those parcels to the Stanley DTO or to particular locations for pick-up by the Stanley DTO.
To help ensure that the letter carriers would not report their criminal activity, Stanley and a co-defendant required letter carriers to provide them with the letter carriers’ home addresses. Stanley discussed with a co-defendant that they should also tell the letter carriers that they knew the location of the letter carriers’ children's daycares.
In October 2019, Postal Inspectors intercepted a United States Priority Mail parcel destined for an Upper Marlboro address that contained the same contents as previous parcels including, edible peanuts, blue-and-white drinking straws, styrofoam plates and cups, and two kilograms of cocaine inside a Tupperware container. Law enforcement executed a search and seizure warrant, seizing the two kilograms of cocaine from the package. On October 9, 2019, Stanley and Savage worked together to pick up the parcel, not knowing that the cocaine had already been seized by law enforcement. They conducted counter-surveillance to make sure that law enforcement was not in the area, but before they could pick up the package, they detected the presence of law enforcement who were conducting surveillance of the Upper Marlboro package’s delivery. Stanley fled the scene in his vehicle, but Savage was arrested.
On October 9, 2019 investigators executed a search warrant at the shared residence of Stanley, Savage, and another member of the DTO. Among the items that investigators found and seized were approximately 15 grams of cocaine in a clear baggie and two digital scales from a kitchen cabinet as well as a money counter. Investigators searched Stanley upon his arrest, seizing $3,196 from his person. Stanley admitted that during the course of the conspiracy at least 40 kilograms of cocaine were attributable to him.
Jovan Kirk Louis Savage, age 35, of Bowie, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison. Maurice Vaughn and Zakiyya Holloman each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and to bribery. They face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge and a maximum of 15 years in federal prison for bribery. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Judge Xinis has not yet scheduled sentencing dates for Savage, Vaughn, or Holloman.
Co-defendant Barrington Albert Edwards, Jr. age 37, of Bowie, Maryland, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, and bribery. Co-defendant Delonte Andre Gomez, a/k/a Turk, age 39, also of Bowie, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
Stanley and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea agreement, Stanley will be sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has scheduled sentencing for Stanley on June 29, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the USPIS, the DEA, the U.S. Postal Service OIG, and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samika N. Boyd and Jason D. Medinger, who are prosecuting the case.
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