Four defendants arrested last week in one of the biggest drug seizures in the region include one on dialysis and another on eight medications after a quadruple bypass, and they are requiring special medical attention in jail.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola this week asked the D.C. Department of Corrections to “do whatever is necessary” to provide medical care for the four defendants, who are among more than two dozen charged in connection with PCP trafficking.
“In a case currently pending before me, many of the defendants are older than the usual defendants, and consequently many are suffering from serious illnesses,” the judge wrote in a letter to an attorney for the city jail.
The letter asks that three defendants — including Velma “Ma” Williams, 59 — be transferred from the jail to the correctional treatment facility, where inmates with special needs generally are kept. The judge added a fourth inmate, Herbert F. Young, to the list on Wednesday.
Authorities announced the indictments last week, saying federal investigators and the Metropolitan Police Department conducted a two-year probe that they say dismantled a major pipeline of PCP into the region.
Being held on suspicion of leading the operation are Lonnell George Glover, 45, of the 4900 block of Brentley Road, in Temple Hills; Anthony “Applejack” Maurice Suggs, 39, of Upper Marlboro; and Miss Williams, of St. Louis.
Authorities indicted a total 22 men and four women and filed search warrants for 20 D.C., Maryland and Virginia properties, including a house on the 1800 block of M Street Northeast.
For years, leaders of a different PCP ring, known as the M Street Crew, operated on the same block before being sent to prison for life in recent federal racketeering cases.
Raids uncovered 5½ gallons of PCP, or phencyclidine; a half-kilogram of heroin; 17 guns; $355,000 in cash; and $145,000 in bank accounts.
Defense attorneys have asked for their clients” release pending trial, sometimes citing concern about age-related illnesses. But prosecutors say the inmates are getting appropriate treatment.
In the case of Mr. Thompson, for example, prosecutors say he is likely getting better treatment in jail than he would out of jail. They also say U.S. Marshals will see that he gets to all of his dialysis treatments on time.
In a court memo, prosecutors charged that Mr. Thompson was well enough to distribute “poison” into the community and that his kidney problems did not keep him from trafficking drugs.
But an attorney for Mr. Thompson disagreed. One recent defense memo stated Mr. Thompson doesn”t have a violent criminal past, had turned his life around and holds long-standing ties to the community through his civic work with the Council of Churches of Greater Washington.
In addition, Mr. Thompson”s medical situation has the potential to be deadly because of kidney failure, the defense memo states.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys also have debated whether defendant Leslie Wood, of District Heights, who had the bypass surgery, should be released pending trial.