Okeechobee Defendants Sentenced on Drug Charges
JUN 10 -- Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Miami Field Division and R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced that six defendants from Okeechobee, Florida were sentenced on June 9, 2008, in two cases in federal court in Fort Pierce. The defendants were sentenced on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846, and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1). Marshall Lee Mitchell was convicted on April 4, 2008, following a four day jury trial, of possession with intent to distribute, and of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, more than six grams of crack cocaine.
U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, sitting in Fort Pierce, sentenced Mitchell to 360 months in prison, followed by 8 years of supervised release. Under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Mitchell qualified for a Career Offender category for enhanced sentencing. Evidence at trial showed that DEA agents and officers of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office executed a state search warrant at an apartment in the Douglas Park neighborhood of Okeechobee. When agents attempted entry, they discovered the door was reinforced with a steel bar that ran the width of the doorway and was secured into the wall/frame. This obstacle delayed their opening of the door and entry by several seconds. Upon entry and crossing the one room apartment, agents found Mitchell and co-defendant Latrisha Hunt in the bathroom, standing over a clogged toilet drain, overflowing water onto the bathroom floor. Several plastic baggies of marijuana and cocaine powder were floating in the toilet water. In the bottom of the bowl, after removal of the water, the officers found two slabs of crack cocaine, a crack cocaine smoking device, and razor blades.
On the bathroom floor leading from the living area to the toilet, lay several pieces and slabs of crack cocaine, a baggie containing crack cocaine already cut into dosage units, and at least two small packets of cocaine powder packaged for sale. On the counter next to the bathroom sink was a spoon caked with cocaine. Agents also seized additional plastic baggies (commonly used to package drugs for sale), a set of digital scales with drug residue, a ledger of drug sales, and numerous personal documents and photographs belonging to both Mitchell and Hunt. Hunt testified at Mitchell’s trial, and was sentenced on May 12, 2008, by Judge Graham to a prison term of 38 months. Also on June 10, in Fort Pierce, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced another five defendants from Okeechobee following their conviction on federal drug charges. Jessie Lee Swanson pled guilty on March 3, 2008, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 grams of crack cocaine. That drug conspiracy involved the participation, under Swanson’s direction, of four other co-defendants, all of whom also previously pled guilty to charges of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine: defendants Charles Solomon Booker, Herman Lay Daniel, Darryl Bernard Rembert, and Alma Louvenia Wright.
According to statements in open court, on eight separate occasions during the months of September and October of 2007, Swanson, by himself or working with his co-defendants, sold crack cocaine in the Douglas Park neighborhood to undercover officers working with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office and the DEA on a joint investigation. The total amount of crack cocaine sold to the undercover officers during this investigation was over 50 grams. Judge Moore sentenced Swanson to 327 months in prison. Under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Swanson qualified for a Career Offender category for enhanced sentencing. The other four defendants received prison sentences for possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute, as follows: Charles Solomon Booker, 37 months; Herman Lay Daniel, 30 months; Darryl Bernard Rembert, 37 months; and Alma Louvenia Wright, 37 months. The Swanson case was brought by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida as part of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program of the Department of Justice.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the DEA and the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office for their work together on both cases.