Richard Byrd a 43-year-old Jamaican residing in Maryland and Arizona, has been sentenced to 26 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and conspiracy to launder drug proceeds.

Byrd, who goes by the name Robert Smith, was sentenced Thursday, February 9 in a district court in Baltimore, Maryland.

He will be supervised for 10 years after his release.

Byrd was also ordered to pay a money judgment of $20 million, as well as forfeit his interest in two properties, three businesses, and 10 vehicles, and forfeit US $1,609,411.51 in cash seized during the investigation.

“This case represents the very height of drug organisations operating out of Baltimore in recent history,” Don Hibbert, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said following the sentencing.

“The Byrd organisation had it all — sources of supply, couriers, and lots and lots of money. But now all they have to show for it is a great deal of time behind bars to think about how they destroyed lives with the drugs they put on the street,” Hibbert said.

According to his plea agreement and court documents, from 2009 through April 2014, Byrd was the leader and organiser a drug distribution network that provided for the acquisition, transportation and distribution of cocaine and marijuana.

The sale of marijuana and cocaine generated proceeds in the millions of dollars. These proceeds were counted and packaged in and around Baltimore. Byrd used couriers to transport the proceeds to the Atlanta, Georgia area, then others to transport the money from Atlanta to cities in Nevada, Texas, Arizona, and California, where the cash was used to purchase additional quantities of drugs.

Byrd also acquired a financial interest in a business in order to launder drug proceeds, finance commercial ventures, and pay other bills and expenses.

At his direction, several million dollars in cash were deposited into the bank accounts maintained by the business. Many of these transactions involve deposits in excess of US$10,000. In addition, Byrd used bank accounts in the name of an alias, Robert Smith, to conduct financial transactions intended to launder drug proceeds, including paying personal bills and expenses.

The conspirators used freight companies to ship drugs obtained in Arizona, California and elsewhere to distribution points in Baltimore, and other east coast destinations.

Rasan Byrd supervised the Arizona-based activities of organisation. Under the direction of Richard Byrd, Rasan coordinated the acquisition of large quantities of marijuana and cocaine from Mexican sources of supply and supervised several workers who weighed and packaged the drugs in a way to avoid detection by law enforcement.

On April 22, 2013, law enforcement officers in Arizona seized 16 kilograms of cocaine and over 600 pounds of marijuana which were about to be shipped to Byrd’s Baltimore-based distributors.

The Baltimore distributors included Jerome Castle, Joseph Byrd, and Harold Byrd. Castle supervised the Baltimore operation, taking delivery of the drugs, selling them, and collecting and counting proceeds from the drug sales. On April 22, 2013, law enforcement officers in Maryland seized approximately 350 pounds of marijuana and over 10 kilograms of cocaine from businesses and residences utilized by Castle, Joseph Byrd, and Harold Byrd. In addition, almost US$58,000 in currency and jewellery valued at more than US$400,000 were recovered at the residence of Jerome Castle. The money and jewellery were also proceeds from illegal drug sales.

In addition, over US$1 million was seized in Arizona from Richard Byrd in early 2011. In July 2012, an additional US $372,000 was seized from a residence in Arizona occupied by Richard and Rasan Byrd.

These money seizures were proceeds from east coast drug sales intended for use in acquiring additional quantities of marijuana and cocaine.

During the course of this conspiracy more than 150 kilograms of cocaine and 20,000 kilograms of marijuana were acquired and distributed by Richard Byrd and his associates.

Brothers Rasan Byrd, age 41, of Houston, Texas, Harold Alexander Byrd, age 27, of Phoenix, Maryland, and Joseph Ibreham Byrd, age 35, of Owings Mills, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Rasan was sentenced to 14 years in prison and Harold and Joseph were each sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Jerome Adolfo Castle, a/k/a Dontwon Burris, age 37, a Jamaican citizen residing in Pikesville, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Castle was also ordered to forfeit US$57,997 in cash, his interest in seven Baltimore properties, jewellery valued at more than US$411,000, 98 pairs of men’s shoes, two laptop computers and an I-Pad, seven firearms and ammunition, as well as six vehicles, including a 2009 Jaguar XF Premium.

Maurice Jones, age 62, and Richard Drummond, age 40, both of Baltimore, also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and were sentenced to seven years in prison and two years in prison, respectively.

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