Three Men Found Guilty in Drug Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 17, 2011|
Lamonte Watson, Jr., Isaac Meeks, and Shawn Smith, all Genesee County residents, were found guilty by a federal jury of conspiring to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine, one or more kilograms of heroin and 280 or more grams of crack cocaine, in the United States District Court in Flint, Michigan, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Andrew Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Field Division.
The 14-day trial was conducted before United States District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith.
The two-year investigation was conducted by the Genesee County Safe Streets Task Force. The Safe Streets Task Force is comprised of special agents of the FBI and officers from the Michigan State Police, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department and the Flint Police Department. Officers assigned to the Flint Area Narcotics Group (FANG) were also integral to the investigation.
The evidence at trial included information that Watson had been a source of supply for drugs since, at least, 2007. Watson worked with others to bring drugs into Flint, Michigan, to test the quality of the drugs and to redistribute the drugs. The jury convicted Meeks and Smith of participating in the drug conspiracy.
Watson, Meeks, and Smith were each convicted of additional counts relating to their possession of drugs with the intent to distribute and their unlawful possession of firearms. The drug conspiracy count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years of federal imprisonment, which may be enhanced to 20 years or life, depending upon prior criminal history.
During the investigation, officers seized over $100,000 in cash, in excess of a kilogram of cocaine, and large quantities of heroin and marijuana. Officers also seized numerous guns, including AK 47, AR 15, and SKS assault-style rifles. The cash, guns, and a number of vehicles were forfeited to the federal government.
Ultimately, 13 men were indicted as a result of the investigation. All 13 have now been convicted of various felony offenses, either after trial or by guilty plea.
United States Attorney McQuade stressed the federal government’s commitment to prosecuting drug and gun crimes in Flint. “We will continue to target for prosecution those responsible for flooding our communities with illegal drugs.”
McQuade also noted the connection between the illegal sale of drugs and the illegal possession of guns. This connection was established at trial when federal agents and officers testified that guns were “tools” of the drug trade. All three men were convicted of illegally possessing firearms after having been previously convicted of felony offenses. “Guns and drugs are a primary component to the violence that we see in Flint and many of our communities,” McQuade noted. “We will continue to aggressively prosecute these types of offenses as a part of our effort to combat violent crime.”
The United States Attorney’s Office has continued its Zero Tolerance initiative to prosecute those who illegally possess firearms in Flint. Thus far, 47 have been charged with the illegal possession of firearms in Flint under the initiative.