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Members of Major PCP Drug Trafficking Organization in Northeast Washington, D.C. and New York Indicted

Washington, D.C. March 16, 2004

Washington, D.C. - United States Attorney Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., Michael A. Mason, Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Laura Nagel, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Washington Division Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Chief Charles Ramsey of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) announced today's joint law enforcement operation targeting the narcotics trade and related violence in Northeast, Washington, D.C. This operation resulted today in the indictment of 26 individuals who were responsible for trafficking Phencyclidine, also known as PCP, by shipping it to Washington, D.C., as well as selling the PCP in Northeast, Washington, centered in the 18th and M Street area of the city. Twenty individuals were arrested on federal and District of Columbia narcotics charges and search warrants were executed in at least 25 different locations in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, New York, and Georgia.

U.S. Attorney Howard stated that, "this is the largest known PCP trafficking organization operating in the metropolitan area, if not nationally. Knowing the volatile and dramatic effect that PCP can have on its users, today's arrests and indictments should hopefully pave the way for the return of a safe and better neighborhood in and around 18 & M Streets, N.E. PCP has been making a comeback and today's message to drug dealers should be: not in our city!"

Today's operation grew out of a long-term investigation which was conducted by the Safe Streets Task Force, a joint FBI/MPD task force targeting gang activity in the District of Columbia. This investigation has focused on the narcotics trade and attendant violence in the Northeast area. The investigation culminated in the issuance of arrest warrants for twenty-six individuals on District of Columbia charges for narcotics distribution, including PCP, cocaine base (also known as "crack" cocaine, and Ecstasy), and other charges and the issuance of two related indictments charging the individuals with a total of ninety-two counts, including narcotics conspiracy charges in United States District Court.

Assistant Director Mason stated, "today's arrests and searches illustrate another joint-agency victory in dismantling a drug enterprise from the supply source to the street distributor."

Chief Ramsey also commended the many officers of the Metropolitan Police Department and federal agents who worked tirelessly to make today's events a successful operation.

According to the two related federal indictments, the twenty-six defendants operated as narcotics distribution organization. The entire conspiracy was largely directed by Robert P. Bascom and Abdul Smith, both 31, and based in the New York area, and who both primarily arranged for the shipment of PCP from, among other areas for later distribution to the District of Columbia, through a local Maryland man, Herbert Eugene Martin, 37. While the conspiracy was national in scope, the local component of the conspiracy was centered in the area of 18th and M Streets, Northeast, Washington, D.C. The local organization was led by John L. Franklin, 31, of the 1300 block of Belmont Street, N.W., who obtained PCP from Martin, and who was the major distributor of PCP to the 18th and M Street drug-traffickers. These defendants then distributed the PCP, as well as cocaine base (also known as "crack"), and Ecstasy to customers from Virginia, Maryland and the District who came to that neighborhood to buy their drugs. Today's mass arrests of this organization is a culmination of an investigation that has seized multi-gallon quantities of PCP from the members - PCP that has been valued at nearly $1 million of narcotics destined for the streets of Washington, D.C.

Today's operation entailed the joint efforts of approximately 300 law enforcement officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Metropolitan Police Department, and Maryland, Virginia, New York, and Georgia law enforcement authorities. In the early morning hours, the officers spread out throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, New York, and Georgia and executed the arrest and search warrants. By day's end, they had arrested twenty individuals and conducted searches of at least 25 different locations related to the drug conspiracy. Those searches resulted in the recovery of a gallon of PCP, 17 firearms, and approximately $100,000 in cash.

Under the federal indictments, the defendants face life imprisonment without parole if convicted of the charges at trial. The defendants are expected to be arraigned in United States District Court beginning later today.

In announcing the two indictments, United States Attorney Howard, Assistant Director Mason, Special Agent in Charge Nagel and Chief Ramsey praised the efforts of the Safe Streets Task Force for its investigation. Specifically commended were FBI Special Agents Richard Stallings, Mary Counts, Timothy Ervin, Tucker Vanderbunt; MPD Detectives Joseph Sopata; Richard Watkins, and Barbara Lyles; and DEA Special Agent Tom Hickey. They also cited the efforts of secretaries April Pinkney and Sheila Wilson, Legal Assistant Carolyn Carter-McKinley, Paralegal Specialists Kim Hall and Rosalind Trapp, Paralegal Supervisors Ivy Hart and Tracy Heckler, and Assistant United States Attorneys Elisa S. Poteat and Roderick L. Thomas, who are prosecuting the case.

An Indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.