MILWAUKEE -- Three indictments were unsealed in federal court Thursday, July 12th, charging 24 defendants with various drug-related offenses. Law enforcement calls them "The East Side Gangsters," and say the bust will put a dent in a major drug trafficking ring in Milwaukee.
"Any time you take out the players the people who are responsible for bringing it into the community, responsible for trafficking in it, all this is done by human beings so when you stop the people whether theyre local or interstate from doing what theyre doing it doees have a dramatic impact," said James Santelle, U.S. Attorney.
The suspects named in the indictments are charged with drug offenses, including conspiracy to distribute and attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Some of those charged are alleged to have unlawfully used telephones for drug trafficking activities.
In the first indictment, two defendants, 25-year-old Ramone Locke and 27-year-old Joey Vazquez, are charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute cocaine. The criminal complaint against them alleges they were part of a gang relying on cook houses, in which they cooked cocaine -- a potentially dangerous operation. If convicted, each faces up to life in prison and a $10 million fine.
In the same indictment, defendants 27-year-old Billy Cannon, Jr., 24-year-old Sharta Harris, 44-year-old Jesse Locke, 53-year-old Marilyn Mack and 26-year-old Herberto Torres are charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine. They each face up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine if convicted on the charges.
A second indictment charges 21-year-old Larry Lawrence, 26-year-old Andre Apontey and 28-year-old Garry Hughes with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute of crack cocaine. If convicted, each faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
The third indictment charges 29-year-old Robert Woods, a.k.a “Young Robbo,” with distribution of cocaine. The maximum penalty for this crime is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
On Thursday, law enforcement arrested ten of the individuals in the indictments. Nine others were already in custody. Five are still on the run 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. It includes officers from the Milwaukee Police Department and Special Agents of the FBI.
The investigation is the second phase of an ongoing, long-term effort by law enforcement to stop 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.
"People who may seek to replace them could be the subject of the next wave of indictments and charges so we think this has a tremendous impact on the community,"
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