Anthony Torrell Tatum, age 36, of Arlington, Virginia, pleaded guilty late yesterday to drug and money laundering conspiracies, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. As part of his guilty plea, Tatum consented to the entry of a $108 million forfeiture order, including luxury vehicles, jewelry and cash.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington Field Division; Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Washington Field Office; Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Chief of Police Robert D. MacLean of the U.S. Park Police; and Postal Inspector in Charge Gary R. Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division.
According to his plea agreement, from at least January 2011 through his arrest on September 6, 2013, Tatum conspired with others to distribute cocaine and heroin in Maryland and elsewhere. A co-conspirator, Ishmael Ford-Bey communicated with the drug supplier, who was located in California. The supplier shipped kilograms to Ford-Bey, using a truck driver to transport the cocaine. The same procedure was followed for each of the deliveries. The truck driver would communicate with the source in California and with Ford-Bey. After Ford-Bey took the boxes of drugs, a co-conspirator would usually drive up and deliver a box of money to the truck driver to be returned to the supplier in California.
On August 28, 2013, a search warrant was executed on a storage unit Tatum had rented in Fort Washington, Maryland, using an alias. Law enforcement agents located and seized, among other things, approximately one kilogram of cocaine wrapped in a white T-shirt, inside a black plastic bag, which was inside a cardboard box addressed to Tatum; approximately 258 grams of cocaine in three clear plastic bags, as well as multiple empty plastic bags, all found in the same cardboard box; approximately 195 grams of heroin in two clear plastic bags and approximately 6.9 grams of cocaine in one clear plastic bag, all found in a large black paper bag; a vacuum food sealer; a black 7.62×39 assault rifle, and two 7.62×39 magazines.
On September 6, 2013, a search warrant was executed at an apartment in Arlington, Virginia. In the apartment, law enforcement agents seized, among other things, $7,823 in cash; a Maryland Driver’s license in the name of the alias used by Tatum to rent the Fort Washington storage unit, but bearing Tatum’s picture; six cellular telephones; blank checks and business documents in the name of businesses used by Tatum to facilitate the drug and money laundering conspiracies; a book titled “Cover Your Tracks Without Changing Your Identity; How to Disappear Until You Want to Be Found”; and pieces of expensive jewelry and clothing. Tatum also was located at the apartment and arrested.
Also on September 6, 2013, a search warrant was executed on a storage unit used by the conspirators in Temple Hills, Maryland. Law enforcement agents seized, among other things, two digital scales with drug residue; approximately 0.083 grams of heroin recovered from a glass table top; a Glock 30 handgun, a ten round magazine, and.45 caliber ammunition; two boxes of ziplock bags; and a payment receipt for the storage unit in the name of Tatum.
On October 1, 2013, a search warrant was executed at the apartment of a co-conspirator that Tatum and Ford-Bey had been identified as visiting. Agents located a safe which contained $823,640 in cash, several expensive watches, and jewelry. In addition, agents recovered scales, three heat sealers, a coffee grinder, a currency counter, and other drug paraphernalia, as well as approximately 350 grams of cocaine. Latent fingerprints recovered from the heat sealers were identified as Tatum and Ford Bey’s.
In an effort to disguise and hide their drug proceeds, Tatum and others created numerous business entities, which had little, if any legitimate business. Tatum set up bank accounts in the name of each business and deposited drug proceeds into those business accounts. On September 6, 2013, warrants were executed on bank accounts in the name of Tatum or his businesses, resulting in the seizure of over $185,000. Tatum used drug proceeds to purchase a BMW, a 2013 Volvo, a 2010 Land Rover. Tatum also used drug proceeds to purchase expensive jewelry, including men’s watches.
Tatum faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison for the drug conspiracy, a maximum of 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy; and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, consecutive to any other sentence, and maximum of life in prison for the gun charge. The government will recommend a sentence of 35 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for May 18, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.
Ishmael Ford-Bey, age 40, of Mitchellville, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to nine counts of a superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, using a phone to facilitate drug distribution, and money laundering. As part of his guilty plea, Ford-Bey also consented to the entry of a $108 million forfeiture order, including luxury vehicles, jewelry and cash. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 5, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the DEA, FBI, Prince George’s County Police Department, U.S. Park Police and U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah A. Johnston and Thomas P. Windom, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.