Charlotte Marijuana Distribution Ring Members Indicted on Drug and Money Laundering Allegations
Business Entity Allegedly Used in Operation of Local Marijuana Trafficking Organization
NOV 24 --CHARLOTTE, NC—A superseding federal bill of indictment charging seven individuals with conspiracy in connection with a marijuana trafficking, money laundering, and structuring scheme operated out of Charlotte, was filed in U.S. District Court in Charlotte on November 17, 2009. Two defendants, indicted and arrested this week, were afforded initial appearances before a federal magistrate judge this morning. A list of the defendants and their current status is found below.
The charges were announced by Edward R. Ryan, U.S. Attorney for Western District of North Carolina, Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Atlanta Field Division; , Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Charlotte, Keith Fixel; and Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigations Jeannine Hammett.
As alleged in the superseding bill of indictment filed Tuesday, from 2006 to March 2009, Defendants Eric Giles and Keith Kraszewski operated and led a drug trafficking organization based in the University area of Charlotte. According to the indictment, the alleged organization imported high-grade marijuana from California and transported it back to North Carolina. The indictment further alleges that while the organization was based in the University area of Charlotte, it operated in various other parts of Charlotte and North Carolina, including Asheville and Greenville. According to the allegations of the indictment the conspirators traveled to California to purchase quantities of high-grade marijuana and to transport it back to North Carolina using a variety of methods. As part of the conspiracy, according to the charges filed on Tuesday, the defendants opened and maintained bank accounts which they utilized to handle the financial transactions related to the drug trafficking business, and that the transactions allegedly included the making of deposits of proceeds from the sale of marijuana, withdrawals of proceeds for purchase of marijuana, and distribution of proceeds from the drug trafficking business. The indictment specifically alleges that Norcal Athletics is a nominee entity utilized by Defendant Eric Giles and others to operate the drug trafficking organization.
Charged in connection with the alleged drug business are:
The indictment alleges in Count One that all seven defendants participated in a conspiracy, which lasted from 2007 to 2009, to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms, or more, of high-grade marijuana. Count Two alleges that defendants Giles, Kraszewski, Skach, Fischer, Corsi, and Grubb committed money laundering conspiracy from April 2008 until December 2008, and Count Three alleges that from April 2008 until December 2008 defendants Giles, Kraszewski, Skach, Corsi and Grubb conspired to structure and assist in structuring numerous currency transactions for the purpose of evading certain banking reporting requirements regarding amounts of $10,000, or more.
The indictment is the result of an investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and broadened with the significant assistance of the Postal Inspection Service and the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS. The investigation, which lasted ** **, involved numerous law enforcement techniques. The indictment details a pattern of alleged sophistacated drug movement, money laundering, and structuring of deposits and withdrawals regularly occurring throughout calendar year 2008.
The indictment includes a notice of forfeiture and finding of probable cause that the defendants forfeit to the United States all of the property involved in the violations alleged in the indictment, all property wich is proceeds of such violations, and all property used or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit or facilitate such violations. The specific property in listed in the indictment as being subject to forfeiture includes the sum of approximately $1,017,800, the sum of approximately $686,910 in structured deposits, and the sum of approximately $696,823 in structured withdrawals along with real property located at 3621 Luton Court, Charlotte, North Carolina.
If convicted the defendants all face from five to 40 years’ imprisonment or a $2 million fine, or both, as to Count One. Count Two carries a 20-year maximum statutory term of imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, or both, and Count Three carries a five-year maximum statutory term of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations only. Each defendant is entitled to a presumption of innocence under the law, and the government has the burden of proving every element of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelli H. Ferry of the Charlotte Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
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