Leader of “We the Best” Cedar Rapids Heroin Ring Sentenced to More Than 30 Years’ Imprisonment
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Tried to Escape from Jail While Awaiting Trial on Federal Charges
A man who led a long-running heroin distribution organization in Cedar Rapids known by customers as “We the Best” was sentenced today to more than 30 years in federal prison.
Antonio Alonzo Outlaw, age 40, from Chicago, Illinois, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a December 11, 2017 jury verdict finding him guilty of conspiring to distribute a kilogram or more of heroin and aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin. In September 2017, Outlaw pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing heroin in 2013.
The evidence at trial showed that Outlaw ran a heroin distribution operation in Cedar Rapids from at least 2013 through January 2017. Witnesses testified that Outlaw’s operation was commonly known to customers as “We the Best” because of a signature line commonly included on text messages sent out by members of the group. After making a phone call to the “We the Best” phone, customers would meet with Outlaw or one of his “runners” to purchase the heroin. The evidence showed that Outlaw’s group distributed over two kilograms of heroin during the course of the conspiracy.
Other evidence at the sentencing hearing showed that in the fall of 2017, while in federal custody awaiting trial on the heroin charges, Outlaw participated in an attempted jail break from the Bremer County Jail in Waverly, Iowa. The evidence showed that Outlaw and another federal inmate, Jose Valencia, planned to break out of the jail by having another individual tamper with the exterior of the window to Outlaw’s cell. Jail staff noticed significant damage to the exterior of the window and ended the attempt before the window was breached.
Outlaw was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade. Outlaw was sentenced to 365 months’ imprisonment. He must also serve a ten-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
During the sentencing hearing, the court noted that the trial evidence, which included approximately two dozen customers of “We the Best,” was a “parade of human misery” that showed that Outlaw’s crime significantly impacted the Cedar Rapids community. The court noted trial evidence that showed that Outlaw’s customers often stole items from retail stores to support their drug habits, and that some of those thefts were requested by Outlaw and other members of “We the Best.”
“Even the smallest dose of heroin can kill, and Outlaw pushed kilograms of this poison into our community for years,” said U.S. Attorney Peter E. Deegan, Jr. “Today, through the tireless efforts of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners, Outlaw was brought to justice in a court of law.”
Outlaw is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA; the Linn County Sheriff's Office; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Marion Police Department; the Iowa City Police Department; and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Chatham and Emily Nydle.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. The case file number is 16-CR-91-LRR.
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Updated September 11, 2018