28 Charged in Winchester, VA Cocaine Operation
SEP 12 -- The DEA and other federal law enforcement officials announced today that 28 people have been indicted on charges related to an intricate web of cocaine distribution rings in the northern section of Winchester City called the “Block.”
“The success of this operation and the positive effect it will have on this community is due to the commitment of law enforcement who every day combat violent drug traffickers who try to destroy the communities we are sworn to protect,” said Shawn A. Johnson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Washington Division.
“The cocaine in these cases was being brought to Winchester from Florida. Through the use of force and intimidation, these drug dealers took control of 80 to 90 percent of the crack cocaine trade within the city of Winchester,” said United States Attorney John Brownlee. “These arrests have stopped the flow of these illegal drugs and the violence that comes with them.”
“With today’s indictments and arrests, ATF and our partners have taken a group of violent criminals off the streets of Winchester,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge William J. Hoover. “Our goal is to make the streets of our communities safer for our citizens and children. Today’s actions have helped get us closer to that goal.”
28 people are charged in four separate indictments returned by a federal Grand Jury sitting in Charlottesville, Virginia. The investigation involved an 8 block area of Northern Winchester called the “Block,” and focused on a group of Florida based drug dealers who were importing cheap cocaine to Florida and bringing it to the Winchester area. The focal point of the “Block” is Cartwright’s Recreation Center, where over two dozen conspirators have actively sold crack cocaine.
According to the indictment, Adelson Michel was a major supplier of crack cocaine in the Winchester, Virginia area. The crack and powder cocaine was transported from southeast Florida to Winchester by Adelson Michel and his associates.
Once in Winchester, Michel, Obenson Sesere, Tiffany Lee Sloane, Sheena Nicole Curry, and Howard Harrison Felix cooked the powder cocaine into crack cocaine and distributed it to other members of this conspiracy in the Winchester area.
Some members of the conspiracy, including Mark Andre Fleurival, Jackson Milien, and Lionel Joseph are members of an organized criminal street gang known as “Zoe Pound,” that is based in Florida. Members of this gang would travel from Florida to Winchester to distribute crack cocaine. Charceil Kellam, Sheena Nicole Curry, and Tiffany Lee Sloane would offer their homes in Winchester, Virginia to cook, store, sell, and distribute crack cocaine.
Several members of the conspiracy, including Adelson Michel, Mark Andre Fleurival, Jackson Milien, Tiffany Lee Sloane, and Robert Lee Scott, Jr., would possess or use firearms during their illegal drug transactions. In a second indictment, the Grand Jury has alleged that James Ray Holmes was a major supplier of cocaine base in the Winchester, Virginia area and supplied numerous drug distributors as well as drug users.
James Holmes, Donald Ray Holmes, Christopher Clark, and Demarcus Clark would distribute cocaine base from various hotels and motels located in Winchester, Virginia and Frederick County, Virginia. Holmes and Clark often had firearms with them during their drug trafficking activities.
In the summer of 2005, a police informant said that he/she drove Holmes and Clark and others to a hotel in Winchester, Virginia. Once inside the hotel, Clark pulled a black pistol from his waistband. The informant said there was a “brick” sized amount of crack cocaine in the room. Customers would call Holmes or Clark on their cell phones and would arrange drug deals. The informant stated that Holmes and Clark sold about $1500.00 worth of cocaine base.
In a third indictment, the Grand Jury has charged that Celeste Joseph and Almosse Titti were major suppliers of crack cocaine in the Winchester area. Joseph and Titti supplied numerous distributors who, in turn, sold the crack cocaine to customers. Joseph, Titti, and Marsaille Volner would bring crack cocaine and powder cocaine from Southeast Florida to Winchester, Virginia. Joseph is charged under the “kingpin statute” with running a continuing criminal enterprise. Joseph, Titti, Volner, Almosse, Andre Ferne Saint-Jean and others would cook the powder cocaine into crack cocaine and then distribute the crack cocaine to other members of the conspiracy. Neda Davenport, Alonzo Wilds, and Sherry Lynn Sloane would provide their homes and cars as places to sell, cook, store, and transport the crack cocaine.
On January 1, 2006, Alonzo Wilds was beaten on the head and face with a pistol by Andre Ferne Saint-Jean, while Mannot Lusca was present. Wilds was a known drug associate of Saint-Jean and Lusca, and was assaulted because Saint-Jean and Lusca susepcted that Wilds was cooperating with law enforcement investigations. Later that day, Winchester Police found Saint-Jean standing in front of Cartwright’s Recreation Center. Saint-Jean ran from police officers, but was caught and arrested for the assault of Wilds. Saint-Jean’s arrest resulted in the seizure of more than 5 grams of crack cocaine and $690 in United States currency.
On February 10, 2006, law enforcement received information that drugs were being sold in and around Cartwright’s Recreation Center. Investigators seized more than five grams of crack cocaine in plain sight from inside Cartwright’s, and additional crack cocaine hidden on the property owned by Cartwright’s. During this investigation, law enforcement learned that drugs were hidden in and around an unoccupied home at 516 North Kent Street, in Winchester, which is located several yards from Cartwright’s. Investigators seized more than 50 grams of crack cocaine, multiple ounces of powder cocaine, baking soda, and cooking dishes commonly used in the manufacturing of crack cocaine. Tony Cartwright controlled Cartwright’s Recreation Center and made it available for use by drug traffickers for the storing and distributing of cocaine.
In a fourth indictment the Grand Jury has alleged that Jennifer Marie Holborn and Licois Fanfan conspired together to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base. Several times in March 2006, Fanfan and Holborn sold cocaine base to police informants.
A civil action seeking forfeiture to the government of 502 and 504 Kent Street, known as Cartwright’s Recreation Center, was also filed in federal court Tuesday morning. The complaint and affidavit charges that the property facilitated drug trafficking in the area for years, and cites 94 reported drug offenses in and around the property between January 2003 and July 2006, including seven controlled purchases of cocaine by law enforcement from inside the building during that time frame. The affidavit sets forth that Tony Cartwright and Allen Cartwright were present in the building when drug trafficking occurred, and that both were aware of the drug trafficking on the property.
The cases were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, which includes The Winchester Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff’s Department, Clarke County Sheriff’s Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Town of Front Royal Police Department, Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Department, the Page County Sheriff’s Department, and the Virginia State Police. The St. Lucie County, Florida Sheriff’s Department’s Special Investigations Unit, and the Ft. Pierce, Florida Police Department’s Crime Suppression Unit and Gang Analyst also assisted in the case. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Mott will prosecute the cases.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.