Lowell Gang Member Pleads Guilty in Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Conspiracies
Defendant led operation to launder European drug proceeds from black tar heroin trafficking
BOSTON – A leader of a Lowell-based gang, One Family Clique (OFC), has pleaded guilty to conspiring with fellow OFC gang members to traffic wholesale quantities of cocaine, and to launder millions of dollars in drug proceeds through casinos in Canada.
Virak Prum, a/k/a “Polo,” a/k/a “Capo,” a/k/a “Lips,” 36, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of money laundering conspiracy. U.S. Senior District Court Judge William G. Young scheduled sentencing for Dec. 14, 2023.
In August 2018, law enforcement began investigating OFC in response to a dramatic spike in shootings and gang violence in Lowell. OFC is an alliance between several gangs in and around Lowell with ties to gangs in California and other states. In 2018 and 2019, at least 12 incidents of gunfire in the Lowell area are alleged to be attributable to gang-motivated hostilities between OCF and its rivals.
Since at least 2019, Prum and his co-conspirators used the U.S. Postal Service to receive shipments of illegal narcotics, and, in return, to ship cash proceeds to the sources of supply. Members of the conspiracy maintained stash houses in Lowell, which also served as venues for gang meetings and other events furthering the gang’s illegal activities. Over the course of the investigation, agents seized or purchased approximately 12 kilograms of methamphetamine, 2.4 kilograms of cocaine, 2.1 kilograms of MDMA, 513 grams of heroin, and 169 grams of Fentanyl; $177,591 in cash; and seven firearms.
In May 2021, Prum led a money laundering operation in which he and his co-conspirators provided “protection” to a shipment from Europe that purportedly contained 8 million Euros in drug proceeds from black tar heroin sales. Specifically, Prum and his co-conspirators helped pack a shipment of money into a truck and escorted it from New York to New Hampshire.
Prum was charged with 14 others in June 2021. He is the final defendant in custody to plead guilty in the case. One defendant remains a fugitive.
The charge of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine provides for a sentence of up to twenty years in prison, at least three years and up to life of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. The charge of money laundering conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to twenty years in prison, supervised release for up to three years up to life and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered property. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua s. Levy; Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Boston Division; Harry Chavis, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Division; and Greg Hudon, Superintendent of the Lowell Police Department made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the DEA-San Jose Task Force as well as the Long Beach (Calif.) and Santa Clara (Calif.), Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy Moran and Fred Wyshak, III of the Organized Crime & Gang Unit are prosecuting the case.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.