Thursday, February 23, 2012

District Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy and Firearms Charges Following Investigation into Drug Trafficking Ring

He and Others Operated Near Seventh and O Streets NW, Other Locations

WASHINGTON—Espey Brown, Jr., 37, has pled guilty to federal charges stemming from his role in a drug trafficking ring that operated in the Washington, D.C. area, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

Brown, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty on February 22, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base and one count of using, carrying and possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking offense. The Honorable Reggie B. Walton scheduled sentencing for May 22, 2012. Brown faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years of imprisonment and a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years of incarceration on the drug charge, as well as a maximum sentence of life in custody on the firearms charge.

Brown was among 17 people arrested last year following their indictments in August 2011 on conspiracy and other charges. The indictments followed a nearly three-year investigation by the FBI and MPD into the trafficking of cocaine, cocaine base, and marijuana. The ring’s activities primarily occurred in the area surrounding Seventh and O Streets NW and in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Brown was arrested on August 9, 2011, and has been in custody ever since.

Following the return of the indictment, law enforcement officers executed a series of arrest and search warrants in the District of Columbia and Maryland during the early morning hours of August 9, 2011, confiscating approximately one-half kilogram of cocaine, one-quarter kilogram of crack cocaine, and one pound of marijuana. In addition, the officers seized four vehicles, more than $600,000 in cash, and six firearms, including two machine pistols.

As part of his guilty plea, Brown admitted that between June 2008 and August 2011 he was engaged in a conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine and crack cocaine. More specifically, he supplied powder cocaine and crack cocaine to street-level dealers who then sold the drugs to users in the Northwest Washington neighborhood that encompassed the Kennedy Recreation Center and nearby apartment complexes.

The prosecution grew out of an FBI/MPD alliance called the Safe Streets Task Force. The Safe Streets Initiative involves more than 150 Safe Streets Task Forces around the country that combat street gangs by combining federal, state and local police resources. The task forces, which began in 1992 in Los Angeles and the District of Columbia, address gang activity including drug-related crimes. Sharing resources, manpower and intelligence allows federal prosecutors to focus on securing the maximum sentences and penalties for gang members found guilty. By working through a task force, investigators can focus on the entire criminal enterprise, instead of the prosecution of individual gang members.

In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin and Chief Lanier commended the work of the FBI and MPD members of the task force who investigated the case. They also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Park Police, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and the Prince George’s County Police Department, all of which provided assistance. Finally, they cited the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth F. Whitted, Emily Scruggs, and Seth Adam Meinero. They also thanked the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is assisting in the investigation and prosecution.

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