NEW BERN – United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announces that fifteen individuals were sentenced for their involvement in an international cocaine trafficking organization. All 16 were part of the same drug trafficking organization operating in the Elizabethtown and Bladen County area. The organization was importing the cocaine from Jamaica for distribution.
The following individuals were indicted on February 11, 2014. Count 1 charged conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine from September 2008 to February 11, 2014. Count 2 charged conspiracy to import 5 kilograms or more of cocaine into the United States from September 2008 to February 11, 2014 and Count 3 charged distribution of a quantity of cocaine on April 24, 2013. All pleaded guilty and were sentenced to the following. The count of the indictment they pleaded to is annotated as well.
• Shawn Melvin, a/k/a “Gutta” 41, of Elizabethtown, NC – Count 1, 190 months & 5 years supervised release
• Veronica Kemp, 43, of Elizabethtown, NC – Count 1, 120 months & 5 years supervised release
• Alicia McCoy, 25, of Lumberton, NC – Count 1, 24 months & 2 years supervised release
• Jonathan Shipman, 35, of Elizabethtown, NC – Count 3, 108 months & 3 years supervised release
The following individuals were indicted on May 27, 2014. Count 1 charged each with conspiracy to distribute cocaine from January 2004 to May 27, 2014. Count 2 charged each with conspiracy to import cocaine from January 2004 to May 27, 2014. Each was later sentenced to the following terms of incarceration:
• Clayton Leslie, a/k/a “Tyrone Gordon” and “Jamaica”, 37, of Elizabethtown, NC – Count 1, 120 months & 5 years supervised release
• Don Smith, 32, of Elizabethtown, NC – Count 1, 22 months & 2 years supervised release
• Felicia Smith, 39, of Clarkton, NC – Count 1, 18 months & 3 years supervised release
• Terri Smith, a/k/a “Bit Bit”, 31, of Clarkton, NC – Count 1, 5 months & 3 years supervised release
• Levi McGowan, 44, of Columbus, OH – Case transferred to Southern District of Ohio, where the defendant received a sentence of 27 months & 3 years supervised release
• Turkesa Lesane, 35, of Elizabethtown, NC – Count 1, 4 months & 3 years supervised release
• Lawrence Roberson, 49, of Fayetteville, NC – Count 1, 30 months & 4 years supervised release
• Grant McCoy, 31, of Clarkton, NC – Count 1, 30 months & 5 years supervised release
• Kevisha Brown, 25, of , NC – Count 1, 32 months & 3 years supervised release
• Antonio Williams, 45, of Poughkeepsie, NY – Count 1, 141 months & 5 years supervised release
• Michael Ellison, 45, of Bronx, NY – Count 1, 56 months & 4 years supervised release
The following individual pleaded guilty to use of a communication facility in committing or in causing or facilitating a drug trafficking offense; aiding and abetting:
• David McLaughlin, 43, of Orlando, FL – 96 months & 1 year supervised release
In 2011, the United States Department of Homeland Security established the existence of a drug trafficking organization that smuggled cocaine into the United States from several Caribbean islands, including Jamaica, Curacao, and Trinidad. The organization, based in Bladen County, North Carolina, was formed in 2004 by Tyrone Gordon, Shawn Melvin, and Melvin’s wife, Veronica Kemp.
The organization was primarily supplied cocaine by unindicted Jamaican nationals and they recruited Alicia McCoy, Don Smith, Felicia Smith, Terri Smith, Levi McGowan, Turkesa Lesane, David McLaughlin, Lawrence Roberson, Grant McKoy, Kevisha Brown, Antonio Williams, and Michael Ellison to travel to the Caribbean islands to ingest or conceal pelletized cocaine in their body cavities or undergarments. The couriers smuggled the cocaine into the United States via several airports, including those in Charlotte, North Carolina; Miami, Florida; New York, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Memphis, Tennessee. These couriers made a total of 52 international flights for the organization. When the couriers returned to the United States, they regurgitated or passed the cocaine pellets and gave them to Melvin, Kemp, and/or Gordon for distribution. On occasion, some of the couriers were utilized to wire money overseas to individuals for cocaine purchases prior to the couriers’ travels. Melvin provided some of the cocaine to Jonathan Shipman, a drug dealer and high-level member of the United Blood Nation street gang in Bladen County. Investigation ultimately revealed that the organization illegally imported more than 11.5 kilograms of cocaine into the United States between 2004 and 2014.
The case was investigated by The Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, Office of the Resident Agent in Charge, Charlotte, NC; US Customs and Border Protection, Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Department of Public Safety-Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement, North Carolina Highway Patrol, North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles-License and Theft Bureau, Maryland State Police, Elizabethtown Police Department, and the NC State Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Wells prosecuted the case for the government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.
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