KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On July 23, 2021, a federal jury convicted Alim Turner, 23, Ushery Stewart, 22, Ronald Turner, 25, Kedaris Gilmore, 23, Mahlon Prater, Jr., 25, and Trevor Cox, 22 , all of Knoxville, TN, and Demetrius Bibbs, 29, of Chattanooga, TN, for conspiring to distribute various controlled substances including methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, marijuana, oxycodone , alprazolam and buprenorphine. The jury also convicted various defendants, including Jyshon Forbes, 27, of Knoxville, of conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition, several defendants have been convicted of possession of firearms in connection with drug trafficking offenses, and numerous other charges involving the illegal distribution of drugs and illegal possession of firearms. in eastern Tennessee.
The verdict follows a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan in which the eight defendants were tried together. The accused face jail terms of up to life in prison and a fine of $ 10,000,000. Sentencing hearings for the eight defendants will be set for early 2022.
According to court documents, seven other indicted members of the plot have already pleaded guilty. The second alternate indictment resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, Knoxville Police Department, Cleveland Police Department, Chattanooga Police Department, Bureau from the Hamilton County Sheriff, the Tennessee Department of Corrections and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. . The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also contributed to this investigation by performing a drug and firearms analysis on the evidence seized in the case.
Evidence presented at trial revealed that seven of the accused were members of the Unknown Ghost Vice Lords in Knoxville and that another accused, Demetrius Bibbs, was a member of the Black P Stone Bloods in Chattanooga. Evidence also showed that members of the Unknown Ghost Vice Lords distributed kilogram amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs in the Knoxville and Chattanooga areas.
“This lawsuit is part of the Department of Justice’s overall strategy to reduce violence and increase safety in the community by disrupting and dismantling violent criminal organizations that distribute highly addictive, dangerous and deadly drugs, such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, âActing United States said. Prosecutor Francis M. Hamilton III.
âThis verdict demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to investigating violent criminal organizations and individuals who engage in this type of illegal activity. Teamwork between our officers and national and local law enforcement partners has reduced the number of predators endangering and victimizing vulnerable and innocent members of our community, âsaid Joseph E. Carrico, special agent in charge of the Knoxville office of the Federal Bureau. of Inquiry.
âThis conviction is the result of the vigorous cumulative efforts of the Knoxville Police Department and its law enforcement and prosecution partners to tackle violent crime head-on and make our community a safer place. By bringing addictive and deadly drugs to our region, these drug trafficking organizations are directly responsible for an unimaginable tragedy and senseless violence that fragments families and destabilizes communities. In addition to our Organized Crime Unit investigators and various law enforcement partners, I would like to specifically commend the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee for its extraordinary work on this case, âsaid said Eve Thomas, chief of the Knoxville Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorneys David P. Lewen, Jr. and Brent N. Jones, represented the United States.
This case was part of the Department’s Working Group on Combating Organized Crime (OCDETF) and HIDTA Programs. The OCDETF is the United States’ primary weapon against the highest level drug trafficking organizations operating in the United States, importing drugs into the United States, or laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking. The HIDTA program enhances and coordinates drug control efforts among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The program provides agencies with additional coordination, equipment, technology and resources to combat drug trafficking and its negative consequences in critical areas of the United States.
This case was also brought within the framework of Plan safe neighborhoods (PSN), a comprehensive national program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for all. This program gives prosecutors more options, allowing them to use local, state, and federal laws to ensure that criminals who commit gun crimes face severe penalties. The PSN gives each Federal District the flexibility it needs to focus on the individual challenges facing a specific community.