News Release
Date: March 15, 2012
Contact: Erin McKenzie-Mulvey
Number: 212-337-2906

Roc-A-Fella Records Co-Founder, Kareem Burke, Pleads Guilty
to Conspiring to Distribute Marijuana

March 15 (Manhattan, NY) -- Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Kareem Burke, aka “Biggs,” a founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with the intent to distribute, more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, in connection with his participation in a massive marijuana trafficking ring. Burke pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “With Kareem Burke’s guilty plea today, another member of this sprawling marijuana trafficking ring stands convicted. We will continue to pursue and punish those who traffic in illegal drugs.”

According to the Complaint, Indictment, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made at today’s plea proceedings:

Over 50 people, at least 10 of whom have entered guilty pleas, were arrested in late 2010. The defendants were members of three separate but interconnected marijuana trafficking cells. Leaders of these cells depended on each other, and on the same transportation network, for the distribution of the marijuana they sold to customers in New York and in New Jersey. While much of the marijuana distributed by the organization originated in Florida, Kareem Burke and his co-conspirators obtained at least some of the marijuana they distributed from growers in California. When Burke’s residence in New Jersey was searched on the day of his arrest, officers located, among other things, the remains of a marijuana growing operation and approximately $15,000 cash.

Burke, 38, of North Bergen, New Jersey, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Under his plea agreement with the Government, Burke is also required to forfeit $660,000, his residence in New Jersey, the $15,000 cash seized from his residence, and his 2010 BMW. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Swain on May 18, 2012, at 12 p.m.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the New York City Police Department, the New York City Department of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Maryland State Police, the Bergen County, New Jersey, Police Department, the Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Police Department, the Miami Dade Police Department, the Greenburgh, New York, Police Department, and the Passaic County, New Jersey, Police Department. He also thanked the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for New York City, and added that the investigation is continuing.

The prosecution of the cases arising from “Operation Green Venom” is being overseen by the Office's Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amie N. Ely, Michael Lockard, Sarah McCallum, Sarah Paul, and Daniel Chung are in charge of the prosecution.