March 9, 2006
Police Bust Drug Ring: Authorities Say Huge Amounts of Cocaine, Pot Moved
By Bob Purvis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Mar. 9--Authorities have busted a sophisticated Milwaukee drug ring that prosecutors say distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cocaine and marijuana a week, laundered profits through a barbershop and a day care center, and enabled its leader to spend lavishly on everything from a $100,000 watch to a gold-plated hearse for his mother's funeral.
One informant recounted an all-night "money counting party" in which Harvester and others handled $1 million in cash.
The complaint states he also spent heavily to protect the operation, paying for armed guards, video surveillance, a private investigator to check out associates and hidden trap doors in vehicles. Harvester also constantly changed cellular phones and rental cars in attempts to guard against robberies and police set-ups, according to the complaint.
Eight alleged associates of Harvester's were arrested Friday the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Milwaukee Police Department: Chantell Lockett, 29, Larry Harvester, 24, Angela M. Bissonnette, 32, Marquis D. Davis, 26, Joseph L. Johnson, 22, Nina Simmons, 32, Rafael Rodriguez, 26, and Raul Aguirre-Alvarado, 36. All are charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine.
Seven of them appeared Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee for detention hearings. U.S. Magistrate Judge Aaron E. Goodstein ordered them all held without bond, although he said he would be willing to reconsider bond for some of them at a later date.
If convicted, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum life sentence.
Rodriguez and Aguirre-Alvarado, both illegal Mexican immigrants accused of supplying Harvester with cocaine, will be deported once the case is concluded, according to federal authorities. If convicted, they must serve their prison terms before returning to Mexico.
The 50-page complaint is based on statements from 10 confidential informants and evidence collected in a yearlong interagency investigation that began in September 2004. The informants, many of whom have pending criminal charges of their own, describe how Harvester would purchase 15 kilograms of cocaine and up to several hundred pounds of marijuana a week from dealers in Chicago, and bring it back to Milwaukee in "trap cars" outfitted with hidden compartments, then have a close-knit group of friends and family distribute it.
According to the complaint:
Harvester sometimes dealt the drugs out of Marrell's Barber Shop, 7251 W. Appleton Ave., according to the complaint, which suggests it seldom functioned as a barbershop and was used primarily, along with Sally's Angels Day Care, 6826 W. Congress Ave., as a front to launder drug sale profits.
Police monitored Harvester at his home in the 16000 block of W. Dane Court in Brookfield, the barbershop, and even at his mother's funeral.
On March 2, agents spotted a black GMC Yukon, previously seen at Harvester's home, being trailed a Chevy Trailblazer with temporary Indiana plates occupied Rodriguez and Aguirre-Alvarado. Agents pulled over the Trailblazer and uncovered $200,000 in cash hidden in the dashboard.
Police spotted a Tahoe, driven Simmons, a short time later and arrested her after she led 12 squad cars on a five-minute high-speed chase.
When agents arrived at Harvester's home a short time later, his wife, Lockett, tried to flee in a BMW X5 but was blocked police. A subsequent search of the bedroom turned up a .40 caliber handgun and over $200,000 in jewelry, including "a diamond encrusted dog tag that was the size of a man's hand."
Harvester was nowhere to be found.
Gina Barton of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
Copyright (c) 2006, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.
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