LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Fourteen suspects are facing charges for alleged drug distribution and gang-related crimes, caught in a multi-agency investigation conducted by the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Louisville Metro Police Department.
An investigation that spanned several years led to the arrest of Levontay Townes, Deonte Beason, Dariyon Newsome, Kevone Evans, Khalid Ashanti, Raheem II, Frank Trammel Jr., Destiney Lashai Rhodes, Kevin Henry, Jen-Luc Henry and Jason Logsdon.
Three other suspects, Reginald Harris, James Bidens, and Pierre Travis are still at large.
Investigators say the 14 suspects are accused of conspiring to distribute fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone, and methamphetamine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says it’s one of the largest federal takedowns of its type in recent Louisville history.
United States Attorney General of the Western District of Kentucky Russell Coleman is using their arrests as a lesson for the community. Tuesday in a press conference regarding the investigation, he said the best way people can show that Black lives matter is to help the Black community, where violence, drug trafficking, and the use of drugs tends to take over.
In 2020 alone, Louisville has had at least 310 shootings reported by police, resulting in 80 murders.
“What you don’t hear are names of those we lost in violent crimes. As you’ve heard this year, 80 others,” Coleman said. “All of the energy and unsettling there’s been in the community, what’s not there is the sense of urgency to actually save Black lives in impacted neighborhoods.”
Coleman says his office promised a year ago that work would be done to help alleviate the crime in Louisville’s neighborhoods. During the co-agency operation, investigators went through the process of getting and serving warrants and had help from 150 agents from each department. It called for hours and months’ worth of work.
He expressed the importance of help from those in struggling neighborhoods, saying many operations cannot succeed without help from those who see what is happening on the streets every day.
“Incapacitation, taking these individuals out of the community where they’re harming their neighbors is an effective tool to make these neighborhoods safer,” Coleman explained.
He says these multi-agency operations can spare families the heartache of loss. Law enforcement invited the Gwynn and Norment families to the press conference held on Tuesday; Krista Gwynn is the mother of Christian Gwynn, a 19-year-old who was killed last December in a shooting in Shawnee.
“When I see that, is one of those [guns] the one that took my baby? And if it is, I hope they got them,” Gwynn said as she pointed at the 13 guns presented Tuesday that had been seized by federal investigators.
Gwynn’s family is still looking for closure since the night her teenage boy was gunned down just blocks away from home. The family told police he was on his way home from eating dinner with a friend when he was shot by someone in a 2006 dark red impala.
She said their neighborhood hasn’t changed, and there are constant reminders of that fateful night.
“We hear gunshots every day,” she said. “Morning, noon, and night.”
Priscilla Norment and the family of 7-year old Dequante Hobbs Jr. were also at Tuesday’s press conference. Hobbs Jr. was killed by a stray bullet in 2017 while eating cake and playing on his iPad at their house in Russell.
“We shouldn’t be scared, my son shouldn’t be dead, but now this is how we’re living,” Gywnn said.
Even though the 14 suspects revealed Tuesday are awaiting their fate on drug trafficking and gang violence charges, the neighborhood-based gang initiative isn’t over.
All of the defendants revealed in Tuesday’s operation are innocent until proven guilty. Any information on the whereabouts of any of the fugitives on the loose should contact police or the FBI.