Tamisha McBean, 32, of St. Thomas pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to "conspiracy to launder monetary instruments" in the "chow mein can" drug conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe announced. Her codefendants had already entered similar pleas.
According to Sharpe, Demincia Dore, 30, of St. Thomas and Kishma Weeks, 26, of St. Croix pleaded guilty on June 30 and July 5, respectively, to the same charge. Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for Nov. 3.
According to the plea agreements filed with the court, between July 2012 and December 2013, McBean, Weeks and Dore joined a drug trafficking conspiracy whose members shipped barrels containing at least 700 kilograms but less than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana concealed in “chow mein” cans from Los Angeles to St. Thomas utilizing a trucking service. Weeks and Dore later deposited the proceeds from the marijuana sales into their bank accounts on St. Thomas and subsequently wired the proceeds electronically to members of the conspiracy on the U.S. mainland.
McBean, on the other hand, utilized the bank accounts of Jamila Felix, a member of the conspiracy, to deposit and later wire marijuana proceeds from Felix’s bank accounts, the plea agreement says.
McBean, Weeks and Dore face a maximum sentence of 20 years and a fine of not more than $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in their transactions, whichever is greater.
On May 16, codefendants Clarence Griffin, Robert Brown pled guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy and Jamila Felix pled guilty to money laundering conspiracy. On April 20, codefendant Larry Thompson also pled guilty to misprision of felony.
“To be truly effective in our efforts to stop the illicit distribution of drugs, it is not enough to interrupt their flow," Sharpe said in announcing the pleas. "Members of law enforcement must also make drug trafficking unprofitable to criminals such as those involved in this conspiracy. This investigation and the resulting guilty pleas clearly demonstrate that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement colleagues to dismantling the illicit drug trade.”
Kelly R. Jackson, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, said the defendants in the case were part of a "large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy" and engaged in a money laundering conspiracy to conceal the proceeds of the marijuana sales.
"IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to unraveling financial transactions and money laundering schemes where individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their money. We will continue to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement partners to enforce the law and follow the money, wherever it leads,” Jackson said.
Sharpe said the case is the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS-CI. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith.