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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Two Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Cocaine Offenses

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), William J. Bratton, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and Joseph A. D’Amico, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), announced today the arrest of MARC HENRY JOHNSON and JAMES HOLDER, a/k/a “Pepsi,” for cocaine-related charges.  JOHNSON and HOLDER were arrested last night and will be presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein today. 

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Drugs destroy lives and communities.  The charges unsealed today against James Holder and Marc Henry Johnson are a reminder of that.  And the work of the DEA, NYPD, and State Police in this investigation is also a reminder of law enforcement’s commitment to stem the distribution of dangerous drugs in our communities.”   

DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said: “Drug overdoses take too many lives too soon and become a family’s worst nightmare.  DEA is committed to dismantling drug trafficking organizations and those responsible for putting poison in the hands of users.  By retracing alleged crimes, the DEA Strike Force has sent a message to dealers that the consequences of their actions affect them as well as the families of drug users.  DEA commends our law enforcement partners who have worked diligently throughout this investigation.”

NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “As alleged, ‎the defendants’ apparent disregard for a victim of this poison is frankly, unimaginable.  As alleged, when the defendants realized someone was unresponsive after an apparent overdose, they dragged her body down to a building lobby in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. We will continue to pursue those who pour this poison into our streets with every single judicial tool at our disposal.”

State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said: “The hard work of our partners on the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force has led to the arrests of two subjects who have allegedly been dealing or buying cocaine in the city for years, with little regard for the impact of their actions on users or the rest of the community. We will continue to work with our partners to disrupt the supply of dangerous narcotics in our communities and put those responsible behind bars.”        

According to the allegations contained in a criminal Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

From approximately 2003 to October 4, 2015, HOLDER lived in and sold cocaine from a third-floor apartment in Chelsea.  He also delivered cocaine to customers at other locations.  Since 2003, HOLDER distributed a total of more than five kilograms of cocaine. 

HOLDER and JOHNSON are longtime friends.  JOHNSON regularly bought cocaine from HOLDER, used cocaine, and provided cocaine to others in social situations.  JOHNSON also introduced HOLDER to other individuals as a potential supplier of cocaine.  HOLDER then provided cocaine to those individuals in exchange for money, and those individuals, in turn, introduced still more cocaine buyers to HOLDER. 

During the night of October 3, 2015, and the early morning hours of October 4, 2015, JOHNSON sent text messages saying he “may go to Pepsi for a pickup” “in chelsea,” and later met up with a 38-year-old woman (“Individual-1”) and others at a bar in Manhattan.  Individual-1 had been using cocaine before JOHNSON arrived.  JOHNSON told Individual-1 and others at the bar that he had a significant amount of cocaine, which he offered to share. 

Later, JOHNSON and Individual-1 left the bar together in a taxi.  They arrived at the Chelsea building where HOLDER lived at approximately 4:25 a.m., and walked upstairs to HOLDER’s apartment.  Video surveillance footage shows hours later, JOHNSON and HOLDER dragged Individual-1’s apparently unconscious body into the building’s first-floor vestibule.  HOLDER then left the building, carrying an object as he walked away. 

JOHNSON called 911 to summon an ambulance at approximately 8:30 a.m.  He declined to provide his name to the 911 operator, and neither identified Individual-1 nor described his relationship to her, nor did he explain what had happened to her and why she needed medical assistance.  Emergency Medical Technicians (“EMTs”) responded and found Individual-1 unresponsive in the Chelsea building’s vestibule.  JOHNSON left the building soon after the EMTs arrived. 

Individual-1 was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead later on October 4, 2015.  Her death was caused by, among other things, cocaine use.

HOLDER moved out of the Chelsea building after October 4, 2015, but continued to sell cocaine in Manhattan until at least January 2016.

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HOLDER is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine.  The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and a maximum potential sentence of life in prison.  JOHNSON is charged with one count of attempting to distribute cocaine, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of acting as an accessory after the fact in relation to the conspiracy charge against HOLDER, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 15 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which comprises agents and officers of the DEA, the New York City Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York State Police, the U. S. Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshal Service, New York National Guard, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office, the Clarkstown Police Department, the Port Washington Police Department, and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.  The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Margaret Garnett and David Abramowicz are in charge of the prosecution.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 
Updated May 25, 2016