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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

16 face drug & gun charges following street gang investigation “Operation Grapes of Wrath”

(U.S.DEPT. OF JUSTICE RELEASE) – In July 2019, a federal grand jury charged 16 individuals with conspiracy to possess various controlled substances with i...

(U.S.DEPT. OF JUSTICE RELEASE) – In July 2019, a federal grandjury charged 16 individuals with conspiracy to possess various controlledsubstances with intent to distribute; possession of several types of controlledsubstances with intent to distribute; and several criminal violations offederal firearms laws.  U.S. Attorney D.Michael Dunavant announced the unsealing of the superseding indictment today.

The investigation of this case focused on the Grape StreetCrips street gang in Memphis, and was known as Operation “Grapes ofWrath.”  ATF began investigating variousshootings in the Memphis area in the Summer of 2018, and together with DEA andother law enforcement partners, developed suspects in connection with drugdistribution, specifically the distribution of heroin and methamphetamine.

The defendants charged in the indictment are:

  • Travon Allen a/k/a “Little Y,” 30, Los Angeles, California
  • Ozene Benson, 27, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Vincent Boykin a/k/a “Veto,” 31, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Antwan Brown, 31, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Christopher Brown, 29, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Lonnell Davis, 41, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Clifton Graves, 35, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Preston Hampton a/k/a “Grape da Shooter,” 26, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Amber Howe, 31, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Claude Cordell Irby, 23, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Eddie Johnson a/k/a “Eddie Grape,” 36, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Lapheal Johnson a/k/a “Peaches,” 25, Jackson, Tennessee
  • Tionna Jones, 24, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Terrell Kennedy, 34, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Antonio Lurry, 37, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Tarzell Worles a/k/a “Snugg,” 26, Memphis, Tennessee

Count 1 of the indictment charges all of the defendants withconspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more ofmethamphetamine.  This drug conspiracyoperated from December 1, 2018 until May 30, 2019.

Count 2 of the indictment charges Tarzell Worles (“Snugg”),Amber Howe, Antonio Lurry, Christopher Brown, and Clifton Graves withconspiracy to possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more ofheroin.  This drug conspiracy operatedfrom March of 2018 through April 4, 2019.

Count 3 of the indictment charges Tarzell Worles (“Snugg”)and Amber Howe with possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute on January30, 2019.

Count 4 of the indictment charges Tarzell Worles (“Snugg”)and Amber Howe with possession of heroin with intent to distribute on January30, 2019

Count 5 of the indictment charges Tarzell Worles (“Snugg”)with conspiracy to possess MDMA with intent to distribute. According to theindictment, this conspiracy operated from December 1, 2018, through April 4,2019. 

Count 6 of the indictment charges Tarzell Worles (“Snugg”)with possession of MDMA with intent to distribute on April 4, 2019.

Count 7 of the indictment charges Clifton Graves, anunlawful user of marijuana and promethazine, with illegally possessing 10Winchester 12 gauge shotgun shells, 139 Winchester .40 caliber bullets, 12Hornady .40 caliber bullets, 27 Speer .357 caliber bullets, and 31 Hornady .380caliber bullets on February 18, 2019. Federal law prohibits unlawful users ofnarcotics from possessing firearms or ammunition that have moved in or affectedinterstate commerce.

Count 8 of the indictment charges Clifton Graves, anunlawful user of marijuana and promethazine, with illegally possessing a RugerLCR revolver and a Sig Sauer 516 semiautomatic rifle on February 18, 2019.

Count 9 of the indictment charges Vincent Boykin (“Veto”)and Travon Allen (“Little Y”) with possessing 50 grams or more ofmethamphetamine with intent to distribute from March 18, 2019 until April 24,2019.

Count 10 of the indictment charges Vincent Boykin (“Veto”)with possession 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distributeon April 24, 2019.

Count 11 of the indictment charges Ozene Benson and AntwanBrown with possession 50 grams or more methamphetamine with intent todistribute on May 30, 2019.

United States Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: “Aslong as organized crime and drug distribution conspiracies by street gangscontinue to threaten and harm our communities with addiction and violence, thisoffice will continue to aggressively prosecute them for any and all violationsof federal law. Gang members and drug dealers beware: your continuedlawlessness will land your name on a federal indictment, and will secure yourfuture in a federal prison.”

This prosecution is part of an investigation conducted bythe Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and localcooperative approach to combat drug trafficking organizations and organizedcriminal enterprises, targeting national and regional level drug traffickingorganizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities andresources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seizetheir assets.

This case is also part of the Domestic Cartel Initiative, aDEA-led initiative that seeks to dismantle and prosecute domestic drugorganizations and violent gangs that operate in multiple states andjurisdictions.

If convicted of the conspiracy to possess with intent todistribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine charged in Count 1, thedefendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and amaximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a $10,000,000 fine.  Count 2, which involves a conspiracy topossess one kilogram or more of heroin with intent to distribute, carries thesame penalty as Count 1. If convicted of Counts 3, 4, 5, or 6, the defendantsface up to of 20 years imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine. The defendants facea maximum of 10 years imprisonment and $250,000 fine on counts 7 and 8. 

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, DrugEnforcement Administration (DEA), Shelby County Sheriff’s Office NarcoticsDivision, Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit, Bartlett PoliceDepartment, and West Tennessee Drug Task Force.

Special Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Griffith andAssistant United States Attorney Mark Erskine are prosecuting this case onbehalf of the government.