The murder conviction this week in federal court in Baltimore of a Jamaican woman brought to a close a four-year undercover investigation that targeted a brutal criminal gang responsible for the distribution of millions of dollars worth of drugs in five states, including Maryland.
Jean Brown, 43, was identified as one of the leaders of the Brown Organization, a criminal cartel whose members distributed narcotics in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, California and Jamaica. She was convicted on charges of kidnapping and murder in aid of a racketeering conspiracy as part of a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County police departments.
ICE Agent William Winter, who heads the agency's Baltimore field office, described Brown's conviction as a "victory" for the agents and officers who have been investigating the gang's operations since 2009. He said the agents seized approximately 100 pounds of marijuana, $853,000 in cash, bank accounts and six firearms.
According to evidence presented at trial, Brown and Carl Smith -- who was killed by one of Brown's co-conspirators -- were the leaders of an organization that obtained marijuana in Arizona and California and used trucking companies owned and operated by Brown to transport the drugs to Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York on a monthly basis.
The evidence showed that they transported as much as 1,000 pounds of marijuana per month from 2000 until Brown's arrest in 2010.
Court filings show that Brown employed truck drivers and arranged for the distribution of the marijuana on the East Coast, principally in Baltimore and Pittsburgh; used couriers to smuggle the proceeds to Jamaica, and sent cash back to the Southwest to pay for the next load.
Witnesses testified that on Dec. 16, 2009, Brown, Smith and others kidnapped Michael Knight, one of Brown's suspected money couriers who was holding $1 million for the organization.
When the money was collected, $250,000 turned up missing. The witnesses said Knight was bound with a telephone cable and taken to an apartment in White Marsh, Md., where Brown and others interrogated him. When Knight was unable to provide the location of the missing money, he was fatally stabbed in a bathtub.
Court records show that over the next few days, Knight's body was dismembered and disposed of in dumpsters in Baltimore County.
Brown faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the drug conspiracy and for kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering, and a maximum of 10 years for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering.
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