Man Gets 18 Years in Anchorage, Fairbanks Drug Conspiracy
Updated On: Feb 21 2014 04:30:27 PM AKST
A 31-year-old man federal prosecutors call a key player in an Alaska drug distribution ring fronting itself as a hip-hop music label on YouTube received an 18-year prison sentence Friday on conspiracy charges.
According to U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler’s office, Donnel Johnson -- also known as “Creep” -- will also spend five years under supervised release, forfeiting vehicles and jewelry purchased with proceeds from the Anchorage and Fairbanks distribution scheme.
Johnson was one of eight people arrested in August 2012 by federal authorities in Anchorage, Atlanta, Ga. and Rochester, N.Y. The group allegedly distributed more than 50 kilograms of cocaine in Anchorage and Fairbanks, with defendants styling themselves as legitimate members of music distributor Out Da Cutt Entertainment and hip-hop group UNDB -- an abbreviation for Up North ‘D’ or Dope Boys.
“Members of this conspiracy would record rap and hip hop songs, post videos on Youtube.com, and perform local shows in Anchorage and Fairbanks,” prosecutors wrote. “Much of their music glorified the lifestyle of selling illegal narcotics and committing other crimes. The lavish and extravagant lifestyle portrayed in their music and videos was supported by their sales of illegal narcotics.”
As part of the conspiracy prosecutors say Johnson, who claimed to be a record producer, was entrusted with delivering large quantities of drugs from Anchorage to Fairbanks. When the U.S. Postal Service intercepted 10 kilograms of cocaine sent to two Anchorage addresses in November 2012, Johnson was seen in a car conducting counter-surveillance -- trying to spot law enforcement officers -- during one package’s delivery.
“Johnson was the Fairbanks supervisor of the distribution of cocaine during the conspiracy,” prosecutors wrote. “In fact, according to sources, Johnson was the largest distributor of cocaine in Fairbanks during the course of the conspiracy.”
According to court documents, the case against Johnson got a lucky break in January 2012, when an off-duty Anchorage Police Department detective working drug cases with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency saw Johnson approach a vehicle in a Fred Meyer parking lot.
“As he watched the vehicle, Johnson arrived and placed a large duffel bag in the vehicle,” prosecutors wrote. “The vehicle was then pulled over by Anchorage police officers, and 12 kilograms of cocaine was found in the duffel bag. This cocaine was bound for Fairbanks, to be distributed by Johnson and his accomplices.”
Prosecutors say that at Johnson’s sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ralph Beistline told him the severity of his sentence was due to the fact that “for at least the last three to five years, you were pouring cocaine into the Fairbanks community.”
Numerous seizures of drugs have been made in both Anchorage and Fairbanks, with investigators making at least 23 arrests to date. Ten people have received federal sentences up to almost eight years in related cases, with three more suspects pleading guilty.
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