U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Western District of Michigan
For Immediate Release
December 3, 2009
Contact: Brian P. Lennon, Assistant United States Attorney
Twelve Michigan and California Residents Charged With Being Members of Cocaine & Money Laundering Conspiracies
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) Special Agent In-Charge (SAC) Thomas Brandon, Detroit Field Office, and Lansing, Michigan Police Chief Mark Alley announce the arrests of seven defendants in two states in connection with “Operation Holiday Express,” an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Investigation led by the U.S. Justice Department’s ATF in cooperation with the Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the Lansing Police Department, and LA IMPACT, a drug enforcement task force operating in the greater Los Angeles area.
On December 1, 2009, a grand jury in the Western District of Michigan returned a two count First Superseding Indictment in United States v. Alvin Keith Jackson, et al., W.D. Michigan Case No. 1:08-CR-274 [PLM], charging 12 individuals in California and Michigan with being members of cocaine and money laundering conspiracies that began in the mid-1990s and continued through 2009. The First Superseding Indictment also includes a criminal forfeiture allegation wherein the government provides notice of its intent to seize and forfeit funds in listed bank accounts, motor vehicles, a boat, and real property owned or controlled by the defendants in the Los Angeles, California and Detroit, Michigan areas. A copy of the First Superseding Indictment, which was “under seal” until the arrests of the defendants, is attached and sets forth in summary form some of the means and methods used in the money laundering conspiracy.
The defendants arrested yesterday are Willie Cornelius Jackson, 78, of Los Angeles, CA; Robert Edward Wilson, 65, of Los Angeles, CA; Regina Y. Cawthorne-Shariff, 48, of Moreno Valley, CA; Owusu Ananeh Firempong, 58, of Los Angeles, CA; James Dylan Hayes, 39, of Macomb Township, MI; Marlan Micah McRae, 35, of Macomb, MI; and Alvin Maurice Anderson, 45, of Gross Pointe Farms, MI.
Three other defendants remain at large, including Charles Jackson Sr., 46, of Los Angeles, CA; Charles Jackson Jr., 27, of Los Angeles, CA; and Samuel Aaron Collins, 46, of Los Angeles, CA. Simultaneous with the arrests, federal agents served 43 seizure warrants. Funds in 19 bank accounts were seized, along with 24 motor vehicles and a boat. A Notice of Lis Pendens will be filed regarding the real estate listed in the First Superseding Indictment, which, among other purposes, provides notice to potential buyers of the real properties of the federal government's interest in and intent to forfeit these real properties.
Operation Holiday Express began in 2007 after the identification and dismantlement of the AHH DEE AHH drug organization. AHH DEE AHH, which originated in Detroit, operated in the Lansing, Michigan area between 2001 and April 2006, distributing over a thousand kilograms of cocaine, almost 100 kilograms of heroin, and thousands of pounds of marijuana during that time. A significant amount of the powder cocaine they obtained was manufactured into crack cocaine then sold. The organization also was responsible for or involved in at least two kidnapings, several shootings, and other violent crimes in the Lansing area. The investigation of AHH DEE AHH resulted in the conviction of its two leaders, Jamokentayatta Curtis Hampton and Damond Dshan Bean, its New York/New Jersey-based heroin supplier, Daniel Hankinson, and 24 other members and associates of the organization between 2005 and 2007. All 27 defendants pled guilty and 26 agreed to cooperate with law enforcement.
With the assistance of the cooperating defendants and others, in 2007, federal prosecutors indicted and successfully prosecuted the three female Detroit—based cocaine brokers to the AHH DEE AHH drug organization —— Felicia Blake, Tamara Hughes and Larzetta Johnson. In 2008, Lindell Brown, the Las Vegas, Nevada-based organizer for the drug trafficking organization, was indicted and convicted. In November 2008, Alvin Keith Jackson, one of the Los Angeles, California—based cocaine suppliers and three others, including Kelly Burnett Garmon, were indicted and arrested in the Los Angeles area. Alvin Keith Jackson and two of his three codefendants pled guilty and were sentenced in 2009. Kelly Burnett Garmon is the only defendant from the original November 2008 Indictment who has not entered a guilty plea and thus was named in the First Superseding Indictment.
Pursuant to the terms of his written plea agreement with the government earlier this year, Alvin Keith Jackson agreed to the criminal forfeiture of over $730,000 of his assets that were acquired through his cocaine trafficking between California and Michigan from 2004 to January, 2007. Prior to today's seizures, the government has seized over $1,600,000 of assets in this investigation and successfully forfeited over $1,000,000 of drug proceeds.
The Detroit area defendants, James Dylan Hayes, Marlan Micah McRae, and Alvin Maurice Anderson, made their initial appearances in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan this afternoon before the Honorable Joseph G. Scoville, U.S. Magistrate Judge. Three defendants arrested in Los Angeles appeared in federal court in Los Angeles, California, yesterday. The fourth defendant Owusu Ananeh Firempong, 58, of Los Angeles, CA, is expected to appear today.
If convicted of the cocaine conspiracy charge in Count One, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison, followed by at least five years of supervised release after incarceration. This offense also carries a maximum fine of $4,000,000. If convicted of the money laundering conspiracy set forth in Count Two, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years followed by not more than three years of supervised release. The maximum fine for this offense is the greater of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering activity.
ATF SAC Brandon said, "This investigation is an excellent example of law enforcement and prosecutorial tenacity. For five years, ATF, the Lansing Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney's Office followed every bit of evidence to produce today's arrests and seizures. The citizens of Lansing should be proud of their police department in working such a long-term complex investigation that originally stemmed from the streets of Lansing." Lansing Police Chief Alley agreed, and thanked the ATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office for their dedication.
U.S. Attorney Davis praised the joint efforts of the ATF, the Lansing Police Department and the LA IMPACT (Baldwin Park Police Department, Monrovia Police Department, California Highway Patrol, LaVerne Police Department, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department). U.S. Attorney Davis stated, "Every law enforcement agency involved in this complex investigation is to be commended for their efforts in this multi- year and multi-state investigation. The defendants convicted and sentenced in the prior related cases, along with the defendants charged today, are the result of their dedication and hard work."
Operation Holiday Express is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian P. Lennon.
The charges in an Indictment are only allegations of criminal conduct, and the defendants are presumed innocent until their guilt is established in court by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.