Drug trafficker convicted of murder for hire outside parole office – facing mandatory life sentence
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON – A federal jury in Houston has convicted a 50-year-old Houston man on multiple violent crimes related to a drug trafficking conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
The jury deliberated for six hours before returning the guilty verdicts on all counts against Ronald Brown aka Nuk, Nook or Nookie following a six-day trial. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, intentional killing related to drug trafficking, two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a murder, kidnapping and using a firearm in relation to the kidnapping as well as conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.
“Stuffing a zip-tied man into a trunk, raining down gunfire during a car chase and hiring a murderer…all part of Ronald Brown’s illicit cocaine business,” said Hamdani. “People like him destroy communities with the poison they sell and the violence they commit. Brown’s actions cut short someone’s life and put others in peril. And now, thanks to the hard work of federal prosecutors and law enforcement, the only thing in peril is Brown’s freedom.”
During trial, the jury heard from several witnesses who testified about working directly for Brown. He was responsible for moving as much as 100 to 200 kilograms of cocaine each week from Houston to Atlanta, Georgia, on 18-wheeler trucks and car haulers. Once in Atlanta, his associates would divide the shipments before delivering it to Brown’s customers.
In December 2013, law enforcement seized 21 kilograms of cocaine from one of Brown’s associates who had placed the bag in a vehicle at a Valero gas station. Brown was upset by the loss and sidelined him from the drug operation at that time.
The jury also heard testimony from one of Brown’s drivers who was robbed of approximately 56 kilograms of cocaine April 18, 2014. Brown suspected the same individual who lost the drugs at the Valero and another drug associate conspired to steal the cocaine from him.
On April 23, 2014, Brown and others kidnapped the associate, zip-tied his arms and legs and put him in the trunk of Brown’s girlfriend’s vehicle. A good Samaritan picked up the victim and attempted to drive him to safety after the victim managed to free himself from the trunk. However, Brown pursued and shot at them repeatedly, ultimately striking the good Samaritan in the upper body and the associate in the head. Both survived.
One of the kidnappers told the jury he met Brown following the kidnapping who directed him to dump the vehicle and gun used during the shooting. Brown also directed his girlfriend to report the vehicle as stolen.
Following the failed attempt to kill this person, Brown began searching for the other man from the Valero incident whom he also thought was part of the alleged theft on April 18 in order reclaim his drugs. He ultimately decided he wanted to kill him. Testimony revealed Brown was able to obtain the date of the man’s next parole visit. Through a middleman, Brown then hired a shooter and provided him with a handgun.
Following that parole visit on July 1, 2014, the victim returned to his vehicle in the parking lot. The shooter then fired multiple shots at close range at the victim as he sat in the driver’s seat. He died at the scene.
Afterwards, Brown met the shooter and middleman in the parking lot of a grocery store and paid them $20,000.
The defense attempted to convince the jury that other members of Brown’s drug trafficking organization orchestrated the kidnapping and murder. They did not believe those claims and found Brown guilty as charged.
Senior U.S. District Judge Sim Lake presided over the trial and set sentencing for Jan. 29, 2024. At that time, he will get life in a federal prison. Brown has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sebastian A. Edwards and Britni Cooper are prosecuting the case.
The FBI conducted the investigation with assistance from the Houston Police Department’s Homicide Division, Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Parole Division, U.S. Marshals Service, Federal Bureau of Prisons and Drug Enforcement Administration.
Updated November 1, 2023