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Press Release

Madison Man Sentenced to 12 Years for Cocaine Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin

MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Joseph Harper, 42, Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to 12 years in federal prison for conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.  Harper pleaded guilty to this charge on April 19, 2019.

The investigation revealed that Gregory Smith was mailing packages containing cocaine from Houston, to Harper in Madison.  Postal records from November 2017 to November 2018 showed 32 packages mailed from Smith, to addresses in Wisconsin or Iowa associated with Harper, and 48 packages were mailed from the Madison area by Harper or his associates to addresses associated with the Smith in Houston. Based on witness statements and multiple cocaine seizures in the case, agents learned that each of the packages coming from Smith contained between a half kilogram and one kilogram of cocaine.

In addition, federal agents executed search warrants on five of the packages sent to Smith from Harper or his associates, and identified over $85,000 in cash.  Based on communications between Harper and Smith, along with other investigative information, agents learned that each of the 48 packages Harper mailed to Smith contained money to pay for cocaine.

In imposing the sentence, Judge Conley stated that Harper designed, implemented, and led a large-scale interstate conspiracy involving at least 16 kilograms of cocaine.  Judge Conley noted that Harper actively recruited other people to join the conspiracy, many of whom ended up charged along with him in the case.  Judge Conley also noted that Harper had six prior felony drug trafficking convictions, with two of those convictions involving cocaine. 

Twelve individuals have been charged for participating in this cocaine distribution scheme.  In addition to Smith and Harper, eight other defendants have pleaded guilty.  On July 10, 2019, Judge Conley sentenced Smith to 11 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy.  The other individuals who have pleaded guilty are awaiting sentencing.

The charge against Harper is the result of a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Dane County Sheriff’s Office.  The investigation was conducted and funded by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a multi-agency task force that coordinates long-term narcotics trafficking investigations.  The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner.

Updated July 30, 2019

Drug Trafficking