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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Central District of Illinois

For Immediate Release

January 25, 2012

James A. Lewis, United States Attorney

Contact: Sharon Paul, Public Information Officer
(217) 492-4450

Chicago Brothers Charged with Leading Quincy Crack Cocain Trafficking Conspiracy

Springfield, Ill. — Two Chicago brothers previously charged in state court in Adams county now face federal charges alleging they conspired to distribute crack cocaine in the Quincy area for more than a year. Sylvester Purham, 22, and Howard Purham, 19, both of Chicago, appeared today in federal court in Springfield. Both are charged in a federal criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute at least 280 grams of crack cocaine from August 2010 to mid– November 2011, when the brothers were arrested along with others charged in the alleged trafficking.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, since August 2010, the Purham brothers have allegedly controlled a group that has been bringing crack cocaine from Chicago to Quincy, Ill., to sell. The brothers and the group of individuals are allegedly associated with the Black P–Stone Nation street gang. One way of transporting the drugs was via Amtrak. The affidavit details various controlled purchases of crack cocaine and incidents gathered by law enforcement during the investigation which began in mid 2010.

The charges are the result of an investigation led by the Illinois State Police West Central Illinois Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Agencies providing assistance include the U.S. Marshals’ Violent Fugitive Task Force, Quincy Police Department, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and the Illinois Department of Corrections. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Bohm in cooperation with Adams County State’s Attorney Jon Barnard.

The many law enforcement agencies involved in this effort worked as a team, said U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis. This team gathered the evidence that supported this complaint. The defendants made their initial appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore. A detention hearing is scheduled on Jan. 31, at 3:00 p.m., for Howard Purham; Sylvester Purham waived a detention hearing and was ordered detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

If convicted, the statutory mandatory minimum penalty for conspiracy to distribute at least 280 grams of crack cocaine is 10 years to life in prison. If a defendant has one prior felony drug convictions, the mandatory minimum penalty is 20 years to life in prison. With two or more prior felony drug convictions, the statutory penalty is life in prison.

Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.