Final Member of Gulf Coast Drug Trafficking Ring Convicted
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Walt Green announced the fifth and final conviction in a series of federal prosecutions aimed at a drug trafficking ring which operated in the Gulf Coast states. On Friday, January 6, 2017, KENDALL LEWIS, age 27, of Lecanto, Florida, appeared before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson and pled guilty to conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846,. LEWIS was remanded into custody following his conviction and is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. on April 20, 2017.
During the hearing and in his plea agreement, LEWIS admitted that in early 2015, he and his co-conspirators made multiple trips to the Houston, Texas area, where they would obtain distribution-level quantities of cocaine. LEWIS used female co-consprators to drive the cocaine back to Florida, while LEWIS and his other co-conspirators followed the car containing the cocaine back to Florida. The cocaine would then be distributed for profit in Florida. On February 9, 2015, after one such trip to Houston, LEWIS and his co-conspirators were arrested while driving through Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and found to be transporting more than 4 kilograms of cocaine.
LEWIS’S conviction follows the convictions of four co-conspirators who are pending sentencing:
Kareem McKinnon, age 25, of Crystal River, Florida, was convicted on August 4, 2016, following a multi-day jury trial, of conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.
Arthur William Armstrong, age 34, of Crystal River, Florida, pled guilty on October 21, 2015, to conspiring 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 conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.
Shelby Collazo, age 21, of Beverly Hills, Florida, pled guilty on December 4, 2015, to conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.
U.S. Attorney Green stated, “These five convictions should serve as a strong reminder of this office’s commitment to pursuing those who transport and distribute cocaine and other dangerous drugs on our streets. I appreciate the efforts of the DEA, BRPD, and LSP for helping us to dismantle this drug trafficking ring, and the efforts of all of our committed law enforcement partners who work to keep drugs out of our community every day.”
DEA Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Brad L. Byerley stated, “These convictions signify that law enforcement will not tolerate drug dealing in our communities. The DEA and our law enforcement partners are committed to identifying every individual within a drug trafficking organization who is responsible for purveying our city with illegal narcotics.”
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.