March 06, 2008
Contact: Public Information Officer
Phone Number: (202) 305-8426
11 Conspirators Indicted for Importing Large Quantities of Cocaine and Heroin
Case Demonstrates Federal Commitment to Stop Importation of Illegal Drugs
MAR 6 -- (Baltimore, MD) - A grand jury indicted 11 conspirators for conspiracy to import and sell five kilograms or more of cocaine and one kilogram or more of heroin during a seven year period, announced Carl J. Kotowski, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office along with United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. One defendant is also charged with making a false statement in a passport application. The indictment was returned on February 14, 2008 and unsealed on March 3, 2008 upon the arrests of four of the defendants. A fifth defendant was arrested in New York today.
"When you make the choice to distribute drugs, it’s just a matter of time before we catch you", stated ASAC Carl J. Kotowski. "An arrest which involved a drug courier led investigators to a sophisticated drug distribution ring that used a myriad of techniques to smuggle drugs into Maryland," according to Kotowski.
“Most of the illegal drugs sold in Maryland are imported from outside the state,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “This case demonstrates our commitment to identify and prosecute people who bring illegal drugs into our neighborhoods. I am grateful to the police and federal agents who assisted in this investigation.”
According to the three count indictment, from 2001 to February 2008, the defendants conspired to import into the United States large quantities of cocaine and heroin from Spain, Panama, Barbados, St. Thomas, and Dominica, intending that the drugs be sold in Maryland, New York and elsewhere. They recruited U.S. citizens to obtain passports and become “mules,” traveling to and from the United States. The “mules” were fitted with girdles and loose-fitting clothing to conceal money generated from the sales of the drugs, and to conceal drugs strapped and taped to their bodies. The defendants paid the “mules” thousands of dollars to transport the money and drugs, and gave instructions on what to say and do should the “mules” be confronted or arrested by law enforcement. Members of the conspiracy allegedly distributed heroin and cocaine to customers in Baltimore and New York.
The following defendants are charged in the indictment:
Cecil Gregory Boatswain, age 38, of Dominica;
Derrick Gilliard, age 44, of Baltimore;
Mary Carter-Rucker, age 52, of Catonsville;
Mary Estelle Johnson, age 42, of Baltimore;
Monique Johnson, age 30, of Baltimore;
Shameka West, age 27, of Baltimore;
Ernest Jimmie Holloway, age 41, of Baltimore;
Taiesha Ray, age 28, of New York, New York;
Lakisha Eyvette Coleman, age 26, of Baltimore;
Cecil Jeter, Sr., age 46, of Baltimore, and
Eric Morrison, age 31, of Baltimore.
Additionally, count three of the indictment charges Cecil Boatswain with making a false statement in a passport application by falsely identifying himself under another name.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison on each of the two conspiracy counts. Boatswain also faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for making a false statement on a passport in connection with a drug trafficking crime. The four defendants arrested on March 3 will have their detention hearings in federal district court in Baltimore tomorrow. Taiesha Ray, who was arrested in New York today, will have her initial appearance in New York this afternoon.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.