32 Individuals Charged in the Largest Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Case in the Eastern District of Michigan
JUL 20 – Twenty three individuals were charged in an indictment, which was returned on July 13, 2005 and unsealed yesterday, along with nine other individuals who were charged in a criminal complaint, with various drug trafficking and money laundering charges, announced United States Attorney Stephen J. Murphy. Mr. Murphy was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Robert Corso, Drug Enforcement Administration, Maurice Aouate, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Police Chief Douglas Shaeffer, Novi Police Department and Special Agent in Charge, Daniel D. Roberts, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Named in the indictment were
On July 13, 2005, a grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit returned an indictment charging 23 individuals with various drug trafficking and money laundering offenses. Twenty-two of those individuals are charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and cocaine, and with money laundering, in the Detroit area and elsewhere, from 1994 through the present. The Indictment charges that the organization used violence to further its goals and was responsible for two attempted murders in Detroit during the course of its operation. The indictment also charges defendant Quasand Daniell Lewis with operating a continuing criminal enterprise involving the distribution of marijuana and cocaine in Detroit, California, Arizona and elsewhere. Lewis is alleged to be the principal supervisor of the enterprise which is charged with the distribution of more than 30,000 kilograms of marijuana, which generated illegal drug proceeds well in excess of 10 million dollars. Lewis faces a mandatory term of life imprisonment if convicted on the charges. The indictment also charges criminal forfeiture against 16 parcels of real property, five motor vehicles, four bank accounts and cash in excess of 3.7 million dollars. The grand jury further charged Quasand Lewis with a money judgment in the amount of $178,115,820.00, which was alleged to represent the gross proceeds he obtained from the sal and distribution of marijuana during a one year period.
The United States Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Novi Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and thirteen other agencies have participated in this sixteen month investigation. In March 2004, the Novi Police Department seized approximately 4.8 million dollars in narcotics proceeds from a Novi hotel and from a residence in Northville. As a result of that seizure, Alexander Tam and Leonardo Montalvo were charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Both men were convicted and sentenced to incarceration in a federal correctional institution. Evidence seized in Novi lead to the initiation of a federal wiretap investigation involving more than twenty telephones utilized by the co-conspirators. Lewis and his associates are believed to have transported ton quantities of marijuana from Arizona to Michigan for sale in and around the Detroit area.
In addition to the $4.8 million cash seizure in Novi, Michigan, additional narcotics and currency seizures associated with the Quasand Lewis organization include the following:
United States Attorney Murphy stated that, “This is a large, significant and important prosecution. Drug dealing remains a pernicious and devastating cancer on our community, and accordingly, large scale narcotics enforcement remains a top three priority of my office. We intend to continue to do all we can to rid our community and our neighborhoods of illegal narcotics and the fear, violence and dysfunction that accompany them. I salute the entire law enforcement team that labored so tirelessly on this case: from prosecutor to police officer, from federal agency to local police department, the operations that culminated today demonstrate cooperation and teamwork at its best. We are lucky to have such dedicated community servants in our district.”
Special Agent in Charge Corso stated that, “The life of many criminal drug organizations can be extinguished by one thing…stopping access to the illicit proceeds that allow these organizations to run. By following the money forward, DEA along with other federal, state and local authorities, have been able to successfully disrupt and dismantle a major violent drug trafficking organization-making the streets of Detroit a safer place for our families and children.”
IRS Special Agent in Charge Aouate stated that , "Drug dealers, like any other criminals, are motivated by greed. IRS Criminal Investigation's unique role is to follow the money trail left by drug dealers and seize the money supply that feeds their organization with the intent to dismantle their financial empire."
Chief Schaeffer stated that, “Early in this investigation, we recognized that this case involved what must be a major crime organization operating in the metropolitan area of Detroit. We contacted several federal law enforcement agencies, task forces, and other local agencies for assistance. Very quickly the drug component was clearly identified and a partnership was formed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Since the initial police call for service to the present time, the investigation has been co-administered and jointly investigated by the Novi Police Department and the DEA with a close and tightly knit professional relationship.”
SAC Roberts stated that, “This case reflects an exemplary effort by all of the local, state, and federal agencies involved. It further illustrates how cooperation and the sharing of information and technology can lead to a successful investigation resulting in the dismantling and disruption of a continuing criminal enterprise.”
As of today, eighteen of the twenty-three indicted defendants have been arrested as well as six of the defendants charged in the criminal complaint. The leader, Quasand Lewis was arrested and detained in Cleveland. Four defendants were arrested in Orlando, three defendants were arrested in Las Vegas, one defendant was arrested in San Jose, CA and one defendant was arrested at Cedar Point.
In addition to the arrests, approximately five hundred pounds of marijuana was seized yesterday during the arrests along with 41 firearms. Between $300,000 and $500,000 in cash along with several luxury vehicles, including a limo, a Magnum automobile, Corvette and a Mercedes.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. It will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by agents and officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshals Service, Novi Police Department, Detroit Police Department, Farmington Hills Police Department, West Bloomfield Police Department, Troy Police Department, Northville Police Department, Michigan State Police, Sterling Heights Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, Warren Police Department, Dearborn Police Department, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department and the Oak Park Police Department.