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Cocaine Probe Targets Rap Music Figures

Cocaine Probe Targets Rap Music Figures

The Drug Enforcement Administration probe that has ensnared a well-known rap music manager is focusing on the shipment of kilos of cocaine from Los Angeles to New York by a narcotics ring that stashed the drug in “road cases” delivered to recording studios, The Smoking Gun has learned.

Payment for the cocaine was sent back to the West Coast in vacuum-sealed packages that were coated with mustard, the pungent smell of which was intended to conceal from drug-sniffing dogs the scent of narcotics on the currency.

To date, the ongoing investigation–which is being overseen by prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn–has resulted in felony charges against about six defendants, several of whom are connected to the rap music industry.

Additionally, an arrest warrant has been issued for James Rosemond, the manager who represents the L.A. rapper The Game. The 46-year-old Rosemond, a convicted felon with a lengthy rap sheet, is pictured in the above mug shot.

In addition to representing The Game (real name: Jayceon Taylor), Rosemond’s Czar Entertainment web site lists Mike Tyson and singer Sean Kingston as clients. His “affiliated artist” roster–whatever that is–includes gangster rapper Rick Ross, R&B singer Akon, and former Haitian presidential candidate Wyclef Jean. In fact, Rosemond was traveling with Jean in Port-au-Prince in March when the performer was reportedly “shot.”

Rosemond’s brother Kesner, 49, has already pleaded guilty to a trafficking charge stemming from the DEA investigation. Kesner Rosemond, who has previously spent a combined total of 12 years in prison on gun and narcotics charges, faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison for his latest felony conviction. But Rosemond, pictured in the below mug shot, is likely to be hit with a more severe sentence–perhaps in excess of 15 years–when he is sentenced next month.

The DEA probe began in late-2009 when agents discovered that members of the narcotics ring were sending kilos of cocaine from L.A. to New York City via overnight delivery services like Federal Express. In return, packages of cash were being sent to Mail Boxes Etc. locations in L.A., where they were picked up by the cocaine suppliers.

At one point, federal agents seized three Federal Express boxes containing a total of $452,270 in cash that had been picked up by Maynard Coleman, an alleged member of the drug trafficking ring, at a Beverly Hills mail drop. The currency was found inside plastic bags that were “filled with yellow mustard,” according to an affidavit sworn by Agent Steven Miller.

During subsequent surveillance, Coleman was spotted driving on two different occasions to Mail Boxes Etc. with Henry Butler, whom the DEA identified as one of the ring’s principal cocaine suppliers. Miller reported that investigators last July recovered five kilos of cocaine that Butler sought to mail with the aid of Coleman (who says he works as a “producer/engineer” for Malibu Music Co.) and an unidentified woman.

As a result, Coleman and Butler were charged with drug trafficking. Butler, who pleaded guilty in mid-March, has been cooperating with federal investigators for several months and has provided significant details about the trafficking operation. While Butler is scheduled to be sentenced in late-July, that appearance will likely be postponed due to his continuing assistance to the government.

Butler’s cooperation could spell trouble for James Rosemond, whom Butler initially met through his involvement in the music industry. That relationship, a source told TSG, eventually grew to include the trafficking of cocaine.

While charges against Rosemond have not been unsealed, a close associate of his, Khalil Abdullah, was named last month in a five-count indictment charging him with narcotics distribution, cocaine possession, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. The last count stems from the 37-year-old Abdullah’s alleged attempt to pressure Butler into not cooperating with federal officials.

In a sworn affidavit, DEA Agent Arthur Tracy described how members of the narcotics ring transitioned from using Federal Express to move its cocaine to shipping narcotics “in ‘road cases’ that normally store music equipment to various music studios in New York City.” Then, once “Abdullah or his underlings retrieved the road cases from the studios and distributed the cocaine in New York, they would then transport millions of dollars of proceeds from narcotics sales in road cases to music studios in Los Angeles.”

During the course of the DEA probe, Tracy reported, “the government developed evidence demonstrating that Abdullah was one of the leaders” of the cocaine trafficking operation. Abdullah, who is being held without bail, is a convicted felon who has served time for robbery.

In a recent court filing, prosecutors noted that while Abdullah spent time inside recording studios, he “does not work in the music industry and has instead operated businesses in the security industry as well as the hair-extension industry over the past several years.” (5 pages)


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