A bunch of multitasking dope peddlers who were dealing and recording rap music at the same time have been rounded up, federal officials allege, in a major drug bust led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and coordinated by federal prosecutors in Sacramento.
According to U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner, 25 people in three states have been arrested and charged in Sacramento in two criminal complaints with conspiracy, distribution and possession of Ecstasy, marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin and oxycodone, and with using telephones in the enterprise.
All the defendants have made an initial appearance in federal court. Some were ordered released on bail, while others were held in jail. They are all due back in court May 4, and may be indicted by a grand jury before then.
Wagner identified four of the defendants as rappers from Vallejo, where criminal gangs have historically flourished. The four are Michael Lott, who performs under the name "Miami the Most"; Major Norton, who performs under the name "Dubee"; Gaylord Franklin, who performs under the name "Geezy"; and Bruce Thurmon, who performs under the name "Little Bruce."
They and some of the others charged are associated with Thizz Entertainment, started in 1999 as a record label producing and promoting rap artists in the Bay Area, primarily from the Crest neighborhood of Vallejo.
"Thizz" is street slang for the drug MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy. In songs recorded for the label, the lyrics glorify and promote the use and distribution of MDMA pills.
One of the criminal complaints alleges that some targets of the investigation engaged in large-scale narcotics trafficking while releasing rap albums on the Thizz Entertainment label.
The origins of the label can be traced to the notorious Vallejo robbery crews known as the "Romper Room Gang," which stayed busy in armed bank robberies, drug trafficking and murder. This outfit was active in the late 1980s and through the 1990s. Vallejo police and federal agents finally shut it down and key members went to prison. Some of the individuals charged in the cases just filed are alleged to be former "Romper Room" members, according to Wagner.
The complaints describe an investigation that uncovered a network of drug distributors working out of the Crest neighborhood, along with individuals transporting large quantities of drugs outside of California, where larger profits are realized.
One complaint details drug shipments from the Vallejo area to Oklahoma City, New York City, Atlanta and Milwaukee.
Agents seized approximately 45,000 MDMA pills, approximately 4 pounds of crack cocaine, a half pound of heroin, and $200,000 in suspected drug proceeds. The agents also took possession of 230 acres valued at approximately $1 million.
They executed three search warrants last week and seized approximately 5 pounds of marijuana, a loaded firearm, an Audi A6 with an estimated value of $60,000, and an Audi S5 with an estimated value of $50,000. Also during the searches, agents seized $67,238 in Vallejo and $6,831 in Sacramento.
Veteran drug prosecutor Jason Hitt has worked alongside task force officers investigating the suspects, and he is in charge of the court cases.