Leader Of The Black P Stone Nation Gang Sentenced To Over Twelve Years In Prison For Heroin Trafficking
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. announced today that Kenton Maurice Taylor, age 46, of Lansing, Michigan, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff to 151 months in prison for running a heroin distribution conspiracy that began operating in and around Lansing in October 2012. In addition to his prison term, Taylor was sentenced to eight years of supervised release and ordered to pay a money judgment of $50,400.
Taylor is the leader of the Lansing branch of the Black P Stone Nation gang. As its "Prince," Taylor is the highest ranking member of the gang in the State of Michigan. The Black P Stone Nation is a street gang based in Chicago, which is estimated to have more than 30,000 members across the United States. The gang was originally formed in the 1950s and 1960s by Jeff Fort. Fort is currently serving a sentence of more than 150 years for convictions in 1987 and 1988, which stemmed from conspiring with Libya to perform acts of domestic terrorism and ordering the murder of a rival gang leader. The Black P Stone Nation imbues itself in religion to provide a gloss over its criminal activities and finances itself primarily through narcotics and firearms trafficking.
Taylor and three other gang members – Karl Alphonso Lockridge, Maurice Ray, Jr., and Eric Darnell Cooper were indicted in August 2015 for conspiracy to distribute in excess of 100 grams of heroin and for other heroin distribution and firearms possession charges. Taylor’s co-defendants all pled guilty. Taylor elected to go to trial and a jury convicted Taylor in November 2015 on the conspiracy charge and a heroin distribution charge.
The conspiracy began after Taylor was released from the Michigan Department of Corrections in late 2012, after serving a five-year prison term for cocaine distribution. Taylor returned home to Lansing, resumed leadership of the gang’s Lansing branch, and turned the gang’s focus towards heroin trafficking. Taylor, his co-defendants, and other gang members thereafter traveled to Chicago on a monthly basis to obtain heroin from Taylor’s supply sources for further distribution in Lansing. Gang members armed themselves while on trips to Chicago and in and around Lansing to protect their drugs and their drug proceeds. As the Lansing branch’s leader, Taylor ordered physical beatings of gang members that did not adhere to the gang’s code of conduct.
U.S. Attorney Miles stated: "Street gangs that traffick drugs, carry firearms, and operate through violence and intimidation are a plague on the communities in which they exist. The Black P Stone Nation is no exception. Mr. Taylor is a rampant recidivist drug dealer who, despite a lengthy criminal history and run ins with the law for over two decades, has still not learned his lesson. He is going where he belongs – behind bars."
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Assistant Special Agent in Charge Nicholas Starcevic commented: "The significant sentence of Kenton Maurice Taylor helps protect our community from a dangerous man and a violent gang that was delivering drugs into Lansing and beyond. Heroin and firearms violence has a devastating ripple effect; it ruins lives, families and communities. This case represents a great collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement and the United States Attorney’s Office."
"It is through united vigilance and unyielding determination that the law enforcement community in Michigan was able to significantly disrupt the Black P Stone Nation gang, which was engaged in the distribution of heroin in the Lansing area," stated David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. "Today’s sentencing further demonstrates the collective resolve of federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to address the growing and deadly epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse."
"The Lansing Police Special Operations Section, under the leadership of Sgt. Daniel Zolnai, was grateful to assist the FBI and ATF with this successful and worthwhile collaborative investigation of a prominent gang," stated Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski. "Also contributing to the effort was the Michigan Department of Corrections, the Michigan State Police, and the Capital Area Violent Crime Initiative. All of the groups worked seamlessly together to make this case a success."
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joel S. Fauson and Mark V. Courtade.