A 43-year-old Jamaican woman was yesterday sentenced to life in the United States for murder, kidnapping and racketeering.
Jean Brown, who has been labelled a drug kingpin, was handed the sentence in a Baltimore court. She was convicted of the crimes last month.
The US authorities identified Brown as one of the leaders of the Brown Organisation — a criminal organisation whose members distributed narcotics primarily in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, California, and Jamaica.
The investigation was conducted by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Baltimore County Police Department and the Anne Arundel County Police Department.
"Today's life sentence of Jean Brown for her drug conspiracy, kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering is a victory for HSI special agents who, since 2009, have been investigating the Jean Brown drug trafficking organisation, which spanned five states and two countries. HSI special agents have seized approximately 100 pounds of marijuana, $853,000 in cash and bank accounts, and six firearms from these co-conspirators, who used intimidation and violence to further their criminal activities," said William Winter, special agent in charge of HSI Baltimore. "HSI will continue working with our law enforcement partners to investigate and ultimately dismantle criminal organisations that are wreaking violence in our communities through the illicit drug trade."
Meanwhile, Rod J Rosenstein, US attorney for the District of Maryland, said "Brown ran a lucrative drug organisation that committed wanton and brutal acts of violence".
"In 2009, after authorities seized $250,000 in drug proceeds from courier Michael Knight, Brown and her associates kidnapped Knight, dismembered him in a bathtub and threw his remains in the trash," he said.
According to evidence presented at their seven-day trial, Jean Brown and Carl Smith — who was killed by one of Brown's co-conspirators — led a drug organisation that obtained marijuana in Arizona and California and used trucking companies, that Brown owned and operated, to transport the marijuana to Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York on a monthly basis. The conspirators transported as much as 1,000 pounds of marijuana per month from 2000 until Brown's arrest in 2010.
Brown employed the truck drivers, arranged for the distribution of the marijuana on the East Coast — principally in Baltimore and Pittsburgh — used couriers to smuggle the drug proceeds to Jamaica and sent cash back to the Southwest to pay for the next load.
In addition to the murder of Knight, the evidence showed that, after threatening Smith on several occasions, in April 2010, Brown offered to pay co-conspirators to murder Smith in Tijuana, Mexico. Witnesses testified that one of the co-conspirators killed Smith, shooting him in the head.
Thirty-nine-year-old Dean Myrie, aka "Journey" of Jamaica, pleaded guilty to kidnapping in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to 108 months in prison. Meanwhile, Hubert Downer, aka "Doc", 51-year-old "Michael Reid", and Peter Blake, 55 — who all hail from Jamaica — have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.
This Organised Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case was prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys Stefan D Cassella and Peter M Nothstein of the District of Maryland.