Leader of Large Drug Trafficking Organization, Armed Career Criminal, and Three Members of Large Drug Trafficking Network Plead Guilty
United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today the convictions of five individuals charged in Operation Hidden Fee in connection with an extensive federal, state, and local investigation by the Middle District Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) aimed at a drug trafficking network based and operating in Baton Rouge. The Indictment filed in this matter charged significant drug trafficking offenses involving heroin, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine, as well as several firearm offenses.
On July 10, 2018, JAMES C. HULL a.k.a. “Fat Boy,” age 40, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, appeared before U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles and pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine base, distribution of methamphetamine and heroin, and four counts of unlawful use of communication facilities. As part of his plea, Hull admitted to being the head of a narcotics distribution ring involving 21 subordinate drug dealers who operated throughout the Baton Rouge area. Hull and the members of his organization acquired and distributed large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, and crack cocaine throughout Baton Rouge.
On August 15, 2018, each of the following defendants appeared before U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson and pled guilty for their roles in the drug trafficking network:
- William W. Lipscomb, age 52, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine base. Lipscomb admitted to using his home as a place for Hull to store and distribute narcotics and to selling narcotics on behalf of Hull. Lipscomb faces a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison.
- HEATHER R. WEBBER, age 35, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine base. Webber admitted to obtaining and distributing methamphetamine on behalf of Hull during the conspiracy. Webber faces a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison.
- BRANDON S. KINAMORE, age 41, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine base and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Kinamore admitted to obtaining and distributing methamphetamine on behalf of Hull during the conspiracy. Kinamore, a multi-time felon, also admitted to possessing a firearm. Due to his extensive criminal history, Kinamore is classified as an Armed Career Criminal. Kinamore faces a mandatory minimum of ten years for the drug conspiracy charge and faces an additional mandatory minimum penalty of fifteen years in prison for the firearm charge.
- STACY TAYLOR, age 40, of Walker, Louisiana, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine base. Taylor admitted to obtaining and distributing methamphetamine on behalf of Hull during the conspiracy. Taylor faces a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison.
According to documents filed in connection with the guilty pleas, Hull was the organizer and leader of a drug trafficking organization responsible for the distribution of heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine base in and around the Baton Rouge area. Lipscomb stored and sold heroin, cocaine base and methamphetamine at Hull’s direction. Webber regularly purchased methamphetamine from Hull and sold methamphetamine to others. Kinamore distributed methamphetamine at Hull’s direction and recruited another to sell methamphetamine for Hull. Taylor obtained methamphetamine from Hull to sell to others.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “Today’s convictions are another step towards our goal of removing lethal drugs and those who traffic in them from our streets. We will continue to use every resource available to dismantle these types of organizations and keep our people safe. They deserve nothing less. I want to thank our prosecutors and federal, state and local law enforcement partners for their outstanding efforts in this very important matter.”
DEA Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Brad L. Byerley stated, “Our neighborhoods deserve to exist without fear and intimidation inflicted by violent drug trafficking organizations. These indictments should serve as a warning and send a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue violent criminals as well as the drug traffickers plaguing our communities and bring them to justice.”
East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux stated, “These cases are a result of a lot of hard work by local, state and federal agencies to get drugs and drug dealers off our community streets. These men make money by peddling death to our youth. I’m proud of our agents that have worked so hard and risked so much to make these cases. I'm also grateful to the U.S. Attorney's Office for their hard work and dedication in prosecuting them. We will continue to aggressively work to eradicate these types of enterprises from our community.”
The investigation is yet another effort by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program, which was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers. Today, the OCDETF Program is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General’s drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises. The OCDETF Program operates nationwide and combines the resources and unique expertise of numerous federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated attack against major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.
These ongoing investigations were led by the Drug Enforcement Administration with invaluable assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Baton Rouge City Police Department, and the Louisiana State Police. Other agencies also assisted in apprehending the defendants, including the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the Sheriffs’ Offices in Ascension, Iberville, and West Baton Rouge Parishes.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Piedrahita and Cal Leipold.