A federal jury in Kansas City, Kan., today convicted three men for their roles in a drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed millions of dollars’ worth of marijuana in the Lawrence area, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
The government is seeking a money judgment of more than $16.9 million against the traffickers.
The men were found guilty on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and other drug trafficking counts. The defendants are Los Rovell Dahda, 32, Lawrence, Kan.; Roosevelt Rico Dahda, 32, Lawrence, Kan.; and Justin Cherif Pickel, 34, San Lorenzo, Calif.
During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that starting in 2008 law enforcement agencies began receiving information that Los Dahda was distributing marijuana in the Lawrence area. When Roosevelt Dahda was released from prison in November 2010, he joined his brother Los in the trafficking organization, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Prosecutors presented evidence that during the early days of the conspiracy the Dahdas bought marijuana from Mexico to sell in Lawrence. Over time, they turned to California for their supply. They purchased marijuana in California for $1,800 to $2,800 a pound and they sold it in the Lawrence area for $3,500 to $4,800 a pound, according to prosecutors. It is estimated that the traffickers distributed more than 8,000 pounds of marijuana from 2005 to 2012.
The Dahdas used a business they owned in Lawrence, Gran-Daddy’s BBQ at 1447 W. 23rd St., as well as other properties to receive, store and process marijuana for distribution.
Pickel worked for the Dahdas transporting marijuana from California to Lawrence, prosecutors said. On April 25, 2012, he was stopped on Interstate I-80 in Nebraska. Investigators found 38 pounds of marijuana concealed in a false compartment in a toolbox-fuel tank.
Pickel also set up an indoor marijuana grow operation in California that he maintained for the Dahdas. On June 13, 2012, investigators executed a search warrant at Pickel’s residence in California and seized more than 100 marijuana plants.
The defendants were convicted on the following counts:
Los Rovell Dahda: Conspiracy (count 1), maintaining Daddy’s BBQ at 1147 W. 23rd in Lawrence in furtherance of drug trafficking, distributing marijuana, using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking, andpossession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Roosevelt Rico Dahda: Conspiracy, using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of Holcomb Sports Complex in Lawrence.
Justin Cherif Pickel: Conspiracy, using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking.
Sentencing will be set for a later date. The crimes carry the following penalties:
Conspiracy: Not less than 10 years and a fine up to $10 million. On this count, Roosevelt is facing a minimum of 20 years because of his prior convictions.
Maintaining a house or building in furtherance of drug trafficking: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Distributing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school or playground: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $500,000.
Distributing marijuana; possession with intent to distribute marijuana: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking: A maximum penalty of four years and a fine up to $250,000.
Taking part in an ongoing criminal enterprise: Not less than 20 years and a fine up to $2 million.
Agencies involved in the investigation and the arrest of defendants include the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Johnson County Sheriff‘s Office, the Lawrence Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Service, the Alameda County, Calif., Sheriff’s Drug Task Force, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Lenexa Police Department, the Overland Park Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department and the Hayward, Calif., Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead is prosecuting.