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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 5, 2016

Federal Jury Convicts Another Member Of Gulf Coast Drug Trafficking Ring

BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Walt Green announced the fourth conviction in a series of federal prosecutions aimed at a drug trafficking ring which operated in the Gulf Coast states.  A federal jury has convicted KAREEM MCKINNON, age 25, of Crystal River, Florida, of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846 and 2.  The verdict, yesterday afternoon, followed a multi-day jury trial before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson.  MCKINNON was remanded into custody following his conviction and is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. on November 17, 2016.

The evidence at trial established that, between January and March of 2015, MCKINNON and his co-conspirators made multiple trips to the Houston, Texas area, where they would obtain distribution-level quantities of cocaine.  The co-conspirators would drive the cocaine back to Florida, where the cocaine would be distributed.   MCKINNON and his co-conspirators would travel in a two-car caravan, with the cocaine being transported in one car and MCKINNON and other co-conspirators following behind in a separate car, in an effort to evade law enforcement and minimize the risk that all of the co-conspirators could be apprehended.  On or about February 8, 2015, after one such trip to Houston, MCKINNON and his co-conspirators were arrested while driving through Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and found to be transporting more than 4 kilograms of cocaine.

            MCKINNON’S conviction follows the convictions of three co-conspirators:

  • Arthur William Armstrong, age 34, of Crystal River, Florida, pled guilty on October 21, 2015 to a bill of information charging him with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine;

  • Lamechia Richburg, age 22, of Crystal River, Florida, pled guilty on December 2, 2015, to a bill of information charging her with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine; and

  • Shelby Collazo, age 21, of Beverly Hills, Florida, pled guilty on December 4, 2015, to a bill of information charging her with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.

A fifth individual, Kendall Lewis, age 26, of Crystal River, Florida, was named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on July 7, 2016, charging him with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.  That case remains pending.

U.S. Attorney Green stated:  “This jury verdict and today’s conviction is a strong reminder of my office’s commitment to fighting the drug trade and those who traffic cocaine for profit.  I appreciate the hard work of the DEA, our dedicated state and local law enforcement partners, and our prosecutors, who are working hard to keep cocaine and other dangerous drugs out of our community.”

This matter was investigated by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, with valuable assistance from the Baton Rouge Police Department and the Louisiana State Police.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Adam Ptashkin and Robert Piedrahita.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated August 5, 2016