Bay Area newspaper The Times-Herald reports that 25 people, many of whom are Vallejo, CA-based rappers linked with fallen rapper Mac Dre’s label Thizz Entertainment, have been charged with drug conspiracy. Several of those indicted have already been arrested, but ten others, including the CEO – Miami the Most – are on the run. Police allege that Thizz Ent. used their drug proceeds to fund their record label (imagine that!).
Click here to read the 52-page indictment.
A Bay Area rap label, long linked by East Bay law enforcement to armed robberies, drug dealing and murder, has been implicated in a nationwide drug-trafficking distribution network after a four-year federal investigation, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Twenty-five individuals — including the CEO and numerous rappers associated with Thizz Entertainment, the label founded by slain Vallejo rapper Mac Dre — have been charged with distributing Ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, marijuana and codeine cough syrup across the East Bay and the country, according to a federal prosecutor.
The head of the organization, Michael Lott, 47, of Vallejo, who raps under the name Miami the Most, remains on the lam, along with nine others.
Thizz Entertainment’s business model was simple: sell drugs to finance the record label, said Vallejo police Lt. Ken Weaver.
For many in law enforcement, Thursday’s bust marks the end of a dangerous few decades in Vallejo involving the rap label, which started as a street gang committing robberies and selling drugs to finance fledgling rap careers before turning into a nationwide criminal enterprise, authorities said.
In the early 1990s Mac Dre and a number of his affiliates known as the Romper Room Gang spent time in prison for their alleged role in a string of bank robberies. The Romper Room Gang was later memorialized on an episode of American Gangster, shown in part below.
Earlier this week, the Times-Herald published a much more detailed article about the investigation:
After a four-year investigation, local and federal law enforcement agencies Tuesday named 25 people – many of them Vallejo-based rappers – as defendants in an alleged drug trafficking ring operating across the Bay Area and in several states.
The joint investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Vallejo Police Department and other agencies originated in Vallejo in 2008, Vallejo police Lt. Ken Weaver said. At least 16 of the named individuals are from Vallejo, Weaver added.
The investigation uncovered a network of drug distributors centered in Vallejo’s Country Club Crest neighborhood in north Vallejo, a U.S. Justice Department release said. The nearly 100 pages of affidavits describing the lengthy undercover probe painted a picture of violence mixed in with multiple drug deals.
Those remaining defendants not from Vallejo, are from Fairfield, Stockton, Dublin, Oakland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York and Oklahoma City, according to the release.
The remaining people are from Fairfield, Stockton, Dublin, Oakland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York and Oklahoma City, according to the release.
Four of the 16 Vallejo residents were arrested last Thursday, Weaver said. They are Lawrence Kennedy Nelson, 42; Eric Lesean Robinson, 42; Narco McFarland Sr., 43; and Major Norton III, 37.
Arrest warrants have been issued for the remaining defendants, Weaver said. Among those being sought is Michael Lott, a close associate of Vallejo rapper Mac Dre (Andre Hicks), who was shot to death in Kansas City in November 2004. Others from Vallejo who were being sought Tuesday include: Gaylord Franklin Jr., aka “Geezy,” 42; Clifford Bullock III, aka “Black,” 34; Damian Peterson, 36; Dante Barbarin, 39; Andre Cawthorne, aka “Dre from the Bay,” 38; Anthony Young, 25; Bruce Thurmon II, aka “Little Bruce,” 41; and Jasquez Harris, 36.
The documents released by the Department of Justice also indicated that Marcus Davis, Mikel Brown and Nicholas Ramirez as being Vallejo residents.
Davis and Ramirez were arrested, but Ramirez was released from custody. Meanwhile, Davis is still awaiting trial in Sacramento for the Feb. 20, 2011 shooting death of Chester Jackson, 27, outside a restaurant in Natomas.
Others arrested and in custody were Eileen Knight, Ung Duong, Phat Nguyen, Michael Smiley and and Anthony Payton. One Tiffany Brown was arrested and released.
Those who are charged and not yet in custody were Latroy Cunningham and Beshiba “Pebbles” Cook.
Mac Dre had co-founded “Thizz Entertainment,” which many of the 25 people are associated with, according to the Justice Department. “Thizz Entertainment” is one of the Bay Area’s largest rap labels. According to the documents, “thizz” is the street word for Ecstasy.
In addition to the arrests, agents seized about 45,000 Ecstasy pills, 4 pounds of crack cocaine, a half-pound of heroin and $200,000 in suspected drug profits, and forfeited about 230 acres of property valued at about $1 million. In addition, last Thursday a number of search warrants led to the seizure of about five pounds of marijuana, a loaded firearm, a 2010 Audi A6 and an Audi S5. Agents seized $67,238 in Vallejo and $6,831 in Sacramento, authorities said.
According to documents attached to the criminal complaints, many of the defendants also were involved in sales of marijuana through associations with various marijuana dispensaries in Vallejo. Other illegal drugs allegedly sold to informants were heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and Ecstasy. Drug shipments were sent from the Vallejo area to Oklahoma City; Jamaica; Queens, N.Y.; Atlanta; and Milwaukee.
Thizz Entertainment could be traced back to the notorious Vallejo-based gang, the Romper Room Gang, which was active in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Police said many of the Vallejo suspects were acquainted with the gang.
“Just about everybody (the suspects) was associated with the Romper Room robberies in the late 1990s,” Weaver said.
The Romper Room’s activities included armed bank robberies, drug trafficking and murder. Investigations made by the Vallejo police department, assisted by federal agents, led to many of the members’ arrests.
In addition to the Bay Area activities, federal law enforcement alleged in their court documents that:
• Michael Smiley, a member of the Bounty Hunter Blood’s Street Gang in Oklahoma City, was being supplied Ecstasy by Nicholas Ramirez “White Boy Nick” and Marcus “Killa” Davis, both of Vallejo.
• Marico Whitemon, an associate of Lott’s and involved in some of the illegal drug transactions, was subsequently shot to death in Vallejo on Feb. 6, 2010.
• Lott told an undercover officer that he supplied marijuana to two Vallejo marijuana dispensaries, including North Bay Alternative Healing at 1516 Napa St., owned by co-defendant Clifford Bullock III, of Vallejo. Bullock was still at large. Police say the dispensary is no longer operating.
A May 4 preliminary hearing in the case was set for U.S. District Court in Sacramento.
The following is a summary of federal drug trafficking charges announced Tuesday:
• Michael Lott, aka “Miami the Most,” 47, of Vallejo: Criminal conspiracy to distribute or intent to distribute Ecstasy, marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, Oxycondone on various dates between July 1, 2008 and the present.
• Major Norton III, aka “Dubee,” 37, of Vallejo: Criminal conspiracy to distribute or intent to distribute Ecstasy, and marijuana beginning July 1, 2008. Distribution of substance on July 30 and Aug. 27, 2010.
• Gaylord Franklin Jr., aka “Geezy,” 42, of Vallejo: Criminal conspiracy to distribute or intent to distribute Ecstasy, and marijuana beginning July 1, 2008; methamphetamine on April 16, 2010.
• Clifford Bullock III, aka “Black,” 34, of Vallejo: Narco McFarland, Sr., 43, of Vallejo, Latroy Cunningham, of Milwaukee: Criminal conspiracy to distribute or intent to distribute Ecstasy, marijuana between July 1, 2008 to present.
• Lawrence Kennedy Nelson, aka “Bodine,” 42, of Vallejo: Distribution of at least 28 grams of crack cocaine between Oct. 30, 2008 and the present.
• Eric Robinson, aka “Pay Pay,” 45, of Vallejo: Distribution and possession with intent to distribute at lest 100 grams of heroin between May 28, 2009 and present.
• Eileen Knight, of Los Angeles: Conspiracy to distribute Oxycondone between March 21, 2010 and present.
• Beshiba Cook, aka “Pebbles,” of Sacramento: Conspiracy to distribute Oxycondone between March 21, 2010 and present.
• Damian Peterson, 36, of Vallejo: Using phone to help facilitate sale of cocaine in March and April 2010.
• Dante Barbarin, 39, of Vallejo: Conspiracy to distribute Oxyconone between March 21, 2010 and present.
• Mikel Brown, of Vallejo: Using phone to facilitate conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine in March and April 2010.
• Nicholas Ramirez, aka “White Boy Nick,” of Vallejo; Ung Duong, of Fairfield, Phat Nguyen, of Oakland, Marcus Davis, aka “Killa,” of Vallejo, Tiffany Brown, of Dublin; Andre Cawthorne, aka “Dre from the Bay,” 38, of Vallejo, Michael Smiley, of Oklahoma City, Anthony Payton, of Oklahoma City: Conspiracy to distribute Ecstasy between July 1, 2008 and present.
• Davis and Anthony Young, 25, of Vallejo: Possession with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of Ecstasy.
• Bruce Thurmon II, 41, of Vallejo: Using a communication facility to facilitate a drug trafficking crime, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
• Justin Nonoguchi, Ramirez, Manuel Keith of New York City: Conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
• Jasquez Harris, 36, of Vallejo: Being a drug courier between Vallejo and Oklahoma.
— Source: U.S. Justice Department
Thizz co-CEO/rapper Miami the Most previously released a CD called Miami’s Collection of Dope which featured songs like “Danked Out” and “I Need An Eighth.”