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Three Area Men Sentenced to Significant Prison Terms for Their Roles in Large-Scale Narcotics Conspiracy

WASHINGTON—Three area men were sentenced this week to significant prison terms for their roles in a ring that distributed cocaine in the Washington, D.C. area, following an extensive investigation by the FBI/Metropolitan Police Department Safe Streets Task Force.

The sentencings, which took place on February 29, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, were announced today by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr.; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

The defendants pled guilty in September 2011 to federal narcotics conspiracy charges. They include Curtis Houston, 36, of Bryans Road, Maryland; Saquon Bethea, 32, of Temple Hills, Maryland; and William Rahtef Anwur Smith, 33, of Washington, D.C. All three men were sentenced by the Honorable Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth.

Houston was sentenced to a prison term of 14 years and ordered to pay $168,000 as part of a forfeiture order entered against him. Bethea and Smith were sentenced to prison terms of seven years, and each was ordered to pay $18,800 as part of forfeiture orders entered against them.

According to the government’s evidence, as part of this narcotics conspiracy, Houston was supplied large quantities of powder cocaine and crack cocaine. In turn, Houston supplied powder cocaine and crack cocaine to Bethea, Smith, and others. Bethea and Smith, in turn, supplied these narcotics to others in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The activities took place from at least October 2008 until August 2010.

This long-term investigation led to the indictment and conviction of 18 other individuals for illicit narcotics activities. In total, during the course of this investigation, agents seized approximately 30 guns, over $70,000 in cash, and large quantities of powder cocaine and crack cocaine.

In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin, and Chief Lanier commended the actions of the special agents from the FBI’s Washington Field Office as well as the MPD members of the Safe Streets Task Force who investigated the case. They also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegals Regan Gibson, Candace Battle, and Monica Johnson; Legal Assistant Priscilla Hutson; Criminal Intelligence Analyst Frank Morgan; and Information Technology Specialist Joshua Ellen. Finally, they praised the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nihar Mohanty who investigated the case, and Opher Shweiki and Courtney Spivey, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

The Safe Streets Initiative is funded in part by the Baltimore Washington High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area as well as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The Safe Streets Initiative involves more than 150 Safe Streets Task Forces around the country that combat street gangs by combining federal, state, and local police resources. The task forces, which began in 1992 in Los Angeles and the District of Columbia, address gang activity including drug-related crimes.

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