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Press Release

Birmingham Man Convicted In Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM -- A federal jury late Monday convicted a Birmingham man in a conspiracy to traffic cocaine between Birmingham and Austin, Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay A. Morris.

Following a six-day trial before U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor, the jury convicted ARTAVIS DESMOND McGOWAN, 40, of conspiring with DONALDO FIGUEROA CRUZ, 34, of Austin, Texas, and others, to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine in Jefferson County between August 2011 and October 2011.

Figueroa pleaded guilty in July to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, and concealing $110,000 in a hidden compartment behind the bumper of a Lexus sedan in order to secret the money out of the country. Figueroa was sentenced Nov. 6 to 10 years in federal prison.

"McGowan and his conspirators are among the prime movers of illicit drugs into our community and they made hundreds of thousands of dollars selling it," Vance said. "These drugs devastate neighborhoods and fuel violent crime, so it is particularly important that we prosecute those like McGowan who are indifferent to the shattered lives they leave behind when they profiteer off of dangerous drugs," she said.

"The DEA and the U.S. Attorney's Office, along with our state and local counterparts, worked tirelessly during the investigation of Artavis McGowan," Morris said. "Our partnership with the law enforcement community in Birmingham is dedicated to making our community safer and taking dangerous criminals off the streets of Alabama."

On Oct. 5, 2011, DEA agents seized six bricks of cocaine and other drugs from a home located at 1156 Skyline Drive in Birmingham. Also seized from the house was $341,679 cash. McGowan and his confederates used the home as a "stash" house to remove cocaine from drug "load" vehicles driven from Austin to Birmingham. The basement of the home also was used to process drugs and money, according to evidence at trial.

Evidence further showed that McGowan's fingerprints were found on two of the 46 kilogram wrappers found in the trash in the basement of the Skyline Drive home. In May of this year, DEA agents executed a search warrant at 108 Page Ave. in Birmingham where they found McGowan with more than $61,000 cash.

McGowan is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 25. He faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

The DEA investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory R. Dimler prosecuted.

Updated March 19, 2015