December 13, 2003
Contact: Public Information Officer
Phone Number: (202) 305-8426
Federal Grand Jury Returns Superceding Indictment Against Members of Major Drug Organization
SAC Laura M. Nagel of DEA’s Washington Division announced a further step in a joint law enforcement operation targeting the narcotics trade and related violence in Northeast Washington, D.C. Today, 21 defendants were arraigned by United States District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer on a superceding indictment returned by the grand jury on December 3, 2004. The defendants, largely centered in northeast Washington, have been charged with federal racketeering, narcotics and firearms charges, and on murder, attempted murder, attempted killing of a police officer, and armed robbery.
In a related case, Judge Collyer also arraigned five additional defendants on a superceding indictment charging them with distributing phencyclidine, also known as PCP, in Northeast Washington. If convicted of the charges, all of the defendants face a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Additionally, six of the defendants potentially face the death penalty as a result of having been charged with death-penalty eligible offenses.
The superceding indictments in this case are the latest step in an operation that resulted in the previous indictments of individuals who were responsible for trafficking PCP in Washington, D.C. Today’s indictments broaden the scope of charges of the local defendants to include six murders, as well as other federal racketeering charges, including violent and narcotics crimes. The operation grew out of a long term investigation which was conducted by the Safe Streets Task Force, a joint DEA/FBI/MPD task force targeting gang activity in the District of Columbia.
According to the two related federal indictments, the defendants operated as a narcotics distribution organization. The entire conspiracy was largely directed by Robert P. Bascom and Abdul Smith, both 31, and based in the New York area. Bascom and Smith primarily arranged for the shipment of PCP from other areas for later distribution to the District of Columbia. A local Maryland man acted as their primary intermediary with the group operating at 18th and M Streets, Northeast. While the conspiracy was national in scope, the local component was centered at 18th and M, Northeast. The local organization was led by John L. Franklin, 31, of the 1300 block of Belmont Street, N.W., who is alleged to have obtained PCP from the local Maryland man, and who was the major distributor of PCP to the 18th and M Street drug traffickers.
The mass arrests of this organization and the superceding indictments are a culmination of an investigation that has seized multi-gallon quantities of PCP from the members – PCP that has been valued at nearly $1 million or narcotics destined for the streets of Washington, D.C. The operation entailed the joint efforts of approximately 300 law enforcement officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Metropolitan Police Department, and Maryland, Virginia, New York, and Georgia law enforcement authorities.