SAN FRANCISCO -- Twenty-three people suspected of belonging to a ring that allegedly made $2.4 million worth of cocaine sales annually since 1982 have been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Richmond Police Chief Earnest Clement said members of the group also are under investigation for possible links to drug-related killings in Contra Costa County.
Twelve members of the Richmond ring, allegedly run by Anthony 'Peanut' Hollingsworth, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Joan Brennan Thursday, U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said. They included Daniel Weisberg, alleged supplier of the cocaine.
Six members of the ring, including suspected ringleaders Hollingsworth, Charles Newsome and Yvette Witt, remain at large.
Newsome allegedly shot and killed a man outside a Richmond liquor store in 1983, according to the indictment. No murder charge has been filed but the case is still under investigation, according to Clement.
Russoniello said Thursday the purported gang was suspected of making $2.4 million in cocaine sales a year since 1982. Most of the sales were timed to coincide with the arrival of welfare checks, Russoniello said.
'They focused on welfare recipients,' Russoniello said. 'It shows how this drug permeates all levels of society.'
Investigators seized $80,000 in cash in the trunk of a Jaguar, shotguns and nearly three pounds of cocaine during a February search of one Richmond site.
At least half of the group was arrested on state drug charges earlier this year but many were freed on bail and allegedly resumed the drug operation.
Charges against the group include operation of a continuing criminal enterprise, which carries a life-without-parole prison sentence, conspiracy, possession, sale and distribution of cocaine and tax evasion.