Thursday, July 12, 2012

Twenty-Four Defendants Charged in Federal Court with Drug Distribution on Milwaukee’s East Side

United States Attorney James L. Santelle announced that today, three indictments were unsealed in federal court charging 11 defendants with various drug trafficking offenses. In addition, 13 defendants were charged by criminal complaint with drug offenses related to a federal wiretap investigation. The indicted defendants are charged with drug offenses, including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The defendants charged by complaint are alleged to have unlawfully used telephones in furtherance of their drug trafficking activities.

In the first indictment, two defendants, Ramone Locke (25) and Joey Vazquez (27), are charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846. If convicted, each faces a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment with a maximum of life, a $10,000,000 fine, and between five years and life on supervised release. In the same indictment, defendants Billy Cannon, Jr. (27), Sharta Harris (24), Jesse Locke (44), Marilyn Mack (53), and Herberto Torres (26) are charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), and 846. If convicted, each defendant faces a minimum of five years’ imprisonment with a 40 year maximum, a $5,000,000 fine, and between four years and life on supervised release.

A second indictment charges Larry Lawrence (21), Andre Apontey (26), and Garry Hughes (28) with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute of crack cocaine. The maximum penalties faced by these defendants are minimum of five, maximum of 40 years’ imprisonment, a $5 million fine, and a minimum of four years’ supervised release.

The third indictment charging Robert Woods, a.k.a “Young Robbo,” (29) with distribution of cocaine. The maximum penalty for this crime is 20 years’ imprisonment, up to a $1 million fine, and at least three years of supervised release.

The maximum penalties for this offense are four years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Today, law enforcement arrested 10 of the individuals. Nine others were already in custody. Five are still at large, including Joey Vazquez, Michael Moore, Anthony Whittley, Herberto Torres, and Sharta Harris.

The defendants were charged based on a lengthy investigation by the Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Drug Gang Task Force, which includes officers from the Milwaukee Police Department and special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Justice-Division of Criminal Investigations; the West Allis Police Department; the Internal Revenue Service; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the United States Marshals Service; the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Probation and Parole; and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. The investigation is the second phase of an ongoing, long-term effort by law enforcement to eradicate the sales of powder and crack cocaine and associated violence on Milwaukee’s east side. The first phase concluded in November 2011 with the federal indictment of 13 drug traffickers and their associates on drug conspiracy charges. To date, 37 east side drug traffickers have been federally charged in connection with the investigation.

According to United States Attorney James L. Santelle, “The significant law enforcement action that we are announcing follows on the equally important work accomplished in November of 2011—when, like today, we also apprehended and brought to justice a large group of people whose drug dealing and related criminal conduct compromised the safety and security of neighborhoods on the east side of Milwaukee. This second phase of our targeted, effective, and evidence-based initiative affirms for all of the people of our community that we continue to identify and to dismantle conspiracies that distribute controlled substances—including, as in these matters, powder and crack cocaine. The 13 people prosecuted since the fall of last year are now joined by 24 more—and, like the others, they are all facing significant prison terms and the prospect of losing all of the assets that they acquired during the period of the several years of their illegal and destructive trafficking. Our announcement today of these charges and these arrests also reflects the sort of affirmative, law enforcement success that comes when federal, state, and local agencies are united in attacking violent crime—including drug trafficking.” Santelle specifically recognized the critically important work of all of the agencies participating in the investigation of this matter—including the arrests of earlier today—and he specially commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Milwaukee Police Department, the United States Marshals Service, the Department of Criminal Investigation, Wisconsin Department of Justice, and the Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Initiative.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bridget J. Domaszek.

An indictment or criminal complaint is a method of charging an individual and does not constitute inference of his or her guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until such time, if ever, that the government establishes his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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