Date: October 27, 2022 Contact: email@example.com DETROIT — Six individuals were indicted for drug, gun, and money laundering crimes by a federal grand jury in Detroit, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison. Ison was joined in the announcement by Charles Miller, Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation's Detroit Field Office and Orville O. Greene, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Four defendants were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and methamphetamine between 2020 and 2022. Three of those defendants (Andre Pharr, Clifford Jones, Jr., and Jeffrey Hester-Jackson) were also charged with being felons in possession of firearms. Those three and two others were also accused of a money laundering conspiracy, that is, agreeing to engage in monetary transactions to launder drug proceeds. Finally, Pharr and Hester-Jackson were each charged with several counts alleging specific instances of money laundering. Charged were: Andre Pharr, of Detroit, Michigan (drug conspiracy, felon in possession of firearm and ammunition, money laundering conspiracy, substantive money laundering offenses) Clifford Jones, Jr., of Detroit, Michigan (drug conspiracy, felon in possession of firearm, money laundering conspiracy) Jeffrey Hester-Jackson, of Detroit, Michigan (drug conspiracy, felon in possession of firearm, money laundering conspiracy, substantive money laundering offenses) Mario Ayler, of Detroit, Michigan (drug conspiracy, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute) Gabrielle Thomas, of Detroit, Michigan (money laundering conspiracy) Crystal Hughes, of Detroit, Michigan (money laundering conspiracy) According to the indictment, unsealed yesterday, the drug conspiracy occurred between August 2020 and June 2022 and involved more than 400 grams of fentanyl and 500 grams of methamphetamine. The charged money laundering offenses included the transportation of large amounts of cash, the purchase of casino chips and placement of sportsbook bets, buying expensive jewelry, and leasing a luxury apartment and vehicle, all using the proceeds of drug trafficking. The indictment alleges, among other transactions, that $51,000 in cash was seized from a checked bag belonging to Thomas; that Hester-Jackson and Pharr purchased casino chips and placed sportsbook bets totaling over $540,000 and later cashed out more than $445,000; and that members of the group spent tens of thousands of dollars on Rolex and Audemars Piguet watches and a diamond and gold chain. The government is seeking the forfeiture of more than $420,000 in cash, 25 guns, and a long list of seized jewelry. "Major drug traffickers who sell lethal substances like fentanyl and methamphetamine in our community should know that we will not only hold them accountable for their crimes that may result in lengthy prison sentences, but we will also work tirelessly to recover their ill-gotten gains." said U.S. Attorney Ison. "IRS Criminal Investigation will aggressively pursue anyone who conducts financial transactions to promote the operation of a drug trafficking organization or conceal profits generated from the sale of narcotics," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Miller, IRS-CI. "IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to working with our law enforcement partners and will follow the money of criminal activities." "This indictment demonstrates that we will not allow anyone to profit from poisoning our neighborhoods with fentanyl and methamphetamine," said Orville O. Greene, Special Agent in Charge, DEA. "DEA is determined to hold accountable those trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine in our communities." It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The defendants charged in the drug conspiracy face up to life in prison, while the defendants charged with money laundering face up to twenty years in prison. The three individuals charged with being felons in possession of firearms face up to fifteen years in prison. The case is assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Berg. The case was investigated by agents from the DEA Detroit Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jihan Williams and Rajesh Prasad. He allegedly charged clients a percentage of the predetermined amount of money they had chosen to shelter from taxes. The scheme allegedly resulted in more than $1 billion in unreported income and more than $200 million in unpaid taxes. An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Like all defendants, Mr. Garza is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. If convicted, he faces up to faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each of the 18 counts of wire fraud, 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and three years in prison for each of 22 counts of aiding and assisting in the filing of false federal income tax returns. Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing. IRS – Criminal Investigations' Dallas Field Division conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Dallas Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Renee Hunter, Katherine Miller, and Marty Basu of the Northern District of Texas are prosecuting the case with Trial Attorney Robert Kemins of the Justice Department's Tax Division.