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Three-year investigation leads to conviction of vicious Jamaican drug kingpin
A federal jury in Baltimore has convicted a Jamaican woman on murder and racketeering charges after a three year investigation by federal and local authorities into a sprawling, long-running drug smuggling conspiracy that employed brutal enforcers.
Jean Brown, 43, was convicted on Feb. 20 on charges of murder racketeering charges in connection with a conspiracy to distribute marijuana in five U.S. states and Jamaica, following an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Baltimore County Police Department and the Anne Arundel County Police Department.
Brown was identified as one of the leaders of the Brown Organization, a criminal gang whose members distributed drugs in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, California and Jamaica. Brown's co-defendant Gabriel Campa-Mayen, 45, of Tijuana, Mexico, was acquitted of all charges, however.
"Today's conviction of Jean Brown for drug conspiracy and kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering is a victory for HSI special agents, who since 2009 have been investigating the Jean Brown drug trafficking organization, which spanned five states and two countries. HSI special agents have seized approximately 100 pounds of marijuana, $853,000 in cash and bank accounts and six firearms from these co-conspirators, who used intimidation and violence to further their criminal activities," said William Winter, special agent in charge of HSI Baltimore in a Feb. 20 statement.
The seized cash and drugs apparently belies the actual amounts the group allegedly took in, however.
According to evidence presented at the week-long trial, Brown and Carl Smith - who was killed by one of Brown's co-conspirators - were the leaders of a drug organization that bought marijuana in Arizona and California and transported it east to Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York on a monthly basis, using trucking companies that Brown owned and operated. The evidence showed the group transported as much as 1,000 pounds of marijuana per month from 2000 until Brown's arrest in 2010. Court records show that the group grossed $1-$2 million per month, selling their marijuana for $1,000 per pound.
Brown employed truck drivers and arranged for the distribution of the marijuana on the east coast, principally in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Also according to trial evidence, Brown also used couriers to smuggle the drug proceeds to Jamaica, and sent cash back to the southwest to pay for the next load.
Witnesses testified that in December of 2009, Brown, Smith and co-defendants Peter Blake, Hubert Downer and Dean Myrie kidnapped Michael Knight, one of Brown's money couriers. According to trial testimony, Knight was holding $1 million for the organization, but when the money was collected it was $250,000 short. Myrie drove Brown and Knight --- bound with a telephone cable -- and other members of the organization to an apartment in the suburban Baltimore area, where Brown and others interrogated Knight. After he wasn’t able to provide the location of the money, Brown ordered Downer and Blake to kill Knight, who was then stabbed to death in the apartment’s bathtub. Over the next few days Brown, Myrie, Downer and Blake dismembered Knight and disposed of his body in dumpsters in Baltimore County.
In addition to the murder of Knight, the evidence showed that after threatening Smith on several occasions, in April 2010, Brown offered to pay Campa-Mayen and Leo Alvarez Tostado-Gastellium to murder Smith in Tijuana, Mexico. Witnesses testified that Tostado-Gastellium killed Smith, shooting him in the head. Brown also assaulted a former partner in the drug organization with a baseball bat and a woman and her infant child with boiling water and with a knife.
Brown faces a maximum of life in prison for the drug conspiracy, for kidnapping in aid of racketeering and for murder in aid of racketeering and a maximum of 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering.
Hubert Downer, aka "Doc" and "Michael Reid," 51, of Jamaica; Dean Myrie, aka "Journey," 39, of Jamaica and Peter Blake, 55, of Jamaica have all pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing. Tostado-Gastellium, aka "Superman," is a fugitive, according to ICE.