A Compton man pleaded guilty Thursday to his role in a Southern California-based network that shipped bulk quantities of cocaine and other drugs to Alaska and Oregon via commercial air flights and by mail.
Dawaun Darnell “Caddy” Gipson, 36, entered his plea to a federal count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, an offense that carries a sentence of between five and 40 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A sentencing hearing was set for Aug. 5 in Los Angeles federal court.
The ring used women as couriers to carry the narcotics on passenger flights, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Investigators had been monitoring the group’s phone calls and reading members’ text messages to track drug transactions that took place between April 2015 and August 2016, according to court papers.
Prosecutors said Gipson was caught on tape using coded language to discuss with a co-conspirator the arrest earlier that day of co-defendant Asia Dawnta Williams, 27, of Chicago, who was stopped while trying to smuggle nearly 150 grams of heroin onto a flight out of Los Angeles International Airport.
Prosecutors said Gipson was also taped a few months later discussing how another female courier had brought over two pounds of cocaine onto a flight out of Long Beach Airport and delivered it to a co-conspirator in Oregon.
The indictment alleged that in an Anchorage motel parking lot, a third woman, Natasha Monique Bushner, 31, of Los Angeles, delivered a package containing more than four pounds of cocaine to Margus Gipson — Dawaun’s brother.
Court papers additionally state that co-defendant Miecha Martinique Reva Gunn recruited female couriers “to transport controlled substances and cash drug proceeds.”
In October 2015, law enforcement seized from the lead defendant and the organization’s alleged narcotics supplier, Raul Cisneros Jr., 42, of Compton, nearly 53 pounds of cocaine, more than seven pounds of methamphetamine and $568,357 in cash, along with various firearms and ammunition, according to the indictment.
All eight defendants were charged with conspiracy, and Cisneros with seven additional drug- and firearm-related felonies. Williams, Damon Eugene “Big Head” Smith, 37, of Compton, and Margus and Dawaun Gipson were additionally charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Cisneros, Maurice Gipson, Smith and Margus Gipson face trial in September in downtown Los Angeles.
Williams and Gunn pleaded guilty to conspiracy and are expected to be sentenced in June and July, respectively.
The status of Bushner’s case was not immediately known.
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