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

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(U.S.DEPT. OF JUSTICE RELEASE) – In July 2019, a federal grand jury charged 16 individuals with conspiracy to possess various controlled substances with intent to distribute; possession of several types of controlled substances with intent to distribute; and several criminal violations of federal 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 Street Crips street gang in Memphis, and was known as Operation “Grapes of Wrath.”  ATF began investigating various shootings in the Memphis area in the Summer of 2018, and together with DEA and other law enforcement partners, developed suspects in connection with drug distribution, 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 with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.  This drug conspiracy operated 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 with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.  This drug conspiracy operated from 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 January 30, 2019.

Count 4 of the indictment charges Tarzell Worles (“Snugg”) and Amber Howe with possession of heroin with intent to distribute on January 30, 2019

Count 5 of the indictment charges Tarzell Worles (“Snugg”) with conspiracy to possess MDMA with intent to distribute. According to the indictment, 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, an unlawful user of marijuana and promethazine, with illegally possessing 10 Winchester 12 gauge shotgun shells, 139 Winchester .40 caliber bullets, 12 Hornady .40 caliber bullets, 27 Speer .357 caliber bullets, and 31 Hornady .380 caliber bullets on February 18, 2019. Federal law prohibits unlawful users of narcotics from possessing firearms or ammunition that have moved in or affected interstate commerce.

Count 8 of the indictment charges Clifton Graves, an unlawful user of marijuana and promethazine, with illegally possessing a Ruger LCR 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 of methamphetamine 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 distribute on April 24, 2019.

Count 11 of the indictment charges Ozene Benson and Antwan Brown with possession 50 grams or more methamphetamine with intent to distribute on May 30, 2019.

United States Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: “As long as organized crime and drug distribution conspiracies by street gangs continue to threaten and harm our communities with addiction and violence, this office will continue to aggressively prosecute them for any and all violations of federal law. Gang members and drug dealers beware: your continued lawlessness will land your name on a federal indictment, and will secure your future in a federal prison.”

This prosecution is part of an investigation conducted by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking organizations and organized criminal enterprises, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

This case is also part of the Domestic Cartel Initiative, a DEA-led initiative that seeks to dismantle and prosecute domestic drug organizations and violent gangs that operate in multiple states and jurisdictions.

If convicted of the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine charged in Count 1, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a $10,000,000 fine.  Count 2, which involves a conspiracy to possess one kilogram or more of heroin with intent to distribute, carries the same penalty as Count 1. If convicted of Counts 3, 4, 5, or 6, the defendants face up to of 20 years imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine. The defendants face a 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, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division, Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit, Bartlett Police Department, and West Tennessee Drug Task Force.

Special Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Griffith and Assistant United States Attorney Mark Erskine are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

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