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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Northern District of Iowa

For Immediate Release

November 20, 2012

Sean R. Berry, United States Attorney

Contact: Timothy Duax, Public Information Officer
(712) 255-6011

Gangster Disciples Gang Member to Federal Prison for Drug and Gun Crimes

A Cedar Rapids man who was an active member of the Gangster Disciples street gang was sentenced on November 19, 2012 to more than 17 years in federal prison.

Benjamin Owens, Jr., 25, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a June 29, 2012 guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and possession of a firearm as a felon.

At the guilty plea hearing, Owens admitted he and his co–conspirators agreed to distribute over 280 grams of crack cocaine. Owens also admitted possessing a firearm after a prior felony conviction. While he was incarcerated on the charges, and before his plea of guilty, Owens made several threatening phone calls to a potential trial witness. Owens had previously threatened a second witness prior to his arrest.

Owens was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade. Owens was sentenced to 210 months’ imprisonment. A special assessment of $200 was imposed. He must also serve an 8–year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

As a condition of his supervised release, Owens was ordered to have no contact with the witnesses he threatened, or any association with other gang members. Owens is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Lightfoot and investigated by a joint effort between the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Safe Streets Task Force. The DEA Task Force consists of the DEA; the Linn County Sheriff’s Office; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Marion Police Department; the Iowa City Police Department; the Clinton Police Department; the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, High Risk Unit (HRU); and the Iowa National Guard. The FBI Safe Streets Task Force consists of the FBI; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; and the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, High Risk Unit (High Risk Unit).

Court file information is available at–bin/ The case file number is CR 12–29.