08/23/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/23/2019 13:10
Portland, Maine: United States Attorney Halsey B. Frank announced that Akeem Cruz, a/k/a 'Vybe' and 'Mello', 29, and Lamale Lawson, a/k/a 'Bishop' and 'King Bishop', 28, both of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine base, commonly known as 'crack.' Lawson also pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms. Christopher Rickett, 32, of Portland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and to distributing heroin.
According to court records, from 2015 until September 2017, Cruz and Lawson conspired to acquire heroin and crack in New York and to distribute it in the Portland and Lewiston areas. On about July 31, 2016, agents searched an apartment in Portland and recovered a loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol, 9mm ammunition and a .22 revolver belonging to Lawson. Rickett conspired to acquire heroin in Massachusetts and to distribute it in the Portland area. On December 11, 2018, conspirator Sierrha Frisbie, a/k/a 'Cici', 27, of Portland, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin in the Portland and Lewiston areas.
Cruz and Lawson face between five and 40 years in prison, a $5,000,000 fine and between four years and life on supervised release. Lawson also faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the firearms offense. Rickett and Frisbie face up to 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine and between three years and life on supervised release. The defendants will be sentenced following the completion of presentence investigation reports by the U.S. Probation Office.
The investigation was conducted by the Portland and South Portland Police Departments; the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the FBI and prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice's Strategy to Combat the Opioid Epidemic.