Convicted Knoxville Gang Leader Sentenced To Life Plus Ten Years For Drugs, Firearm, And Money Laundering Crimes

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FILE PHOTO: An employee counts U.S. dollar bills at a money exchange office in central Cairo

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. On January 12, 2022, Alim J. Turner, 23, of Knoxville, was sentenced to life plus ten years in prison, by the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville.

The sentencing follows Turner’s federal trial last July in which a jury convicted him and six other gang members of conspiring to distribute various controlled substances, including methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, marijuana, oxycodone, alprazolam, and buprenorphine. Witnesses testified at trial that Turner was the Knoxville leader of a violent street gang known as the Unknown Ghost Vice Lords. The jury also convicted Turner and other defendants of conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition, Turner and other defendants were convicted of counts charging the possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, the illegal distribution of drugs, and unlawful possession of firearms in East Tennessee. According to court documents, seven other charged members of the conspiracy previously pleaded guilty.

In determining the sentence, Judge Varlan took into account several aggravating factors, including Turner’s role as a leader and organizer of the crimes, his use of minors to commit his crimes, as well as credible threats of violence Turner made against other people in connection with his crimes. The remaining seven defendants who were convicted in July will be sentenced in the coming months.

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“Gang violence, coupled with armed trafficking of lethal drugs, has resulted in devastation and death within our community. This sentence sends a powerful message that armed gang leaders who recruit and use minors to flood the community with drugs and who employ credible threats of violence in their crimes will face justice,” said United States Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III. “This case is an example of the Department of Justice’s comprehensive strategy to target and prosecute the most serious offenders who pose the greatest threats to safety and peace within the community.”

“Illegal drug trafficking continues to have a devastating and horrific impact on communities throughout our nation. This life sentence sends a very strong message to those who engage in these unlawful activities. The FBI and our law enforcement partners remain dedicated

to identifying, investigating, and apprehending those who terrorize our communities with their reckless and illegal behavior,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Carrico.

“Without question, the conviction and sentencing of this defendant will have a profound effect on public safety and quality of life, most significantly in the inner-city where Turner committed numerous acts of violence as an influential gang member. I am extremely proud of the work that KPD Investigators Brandon Stryker and Brandon Glover did over an extensive period of time to dismantle a violent inner-city gang, of which Turner was a member. In their capacity as KPD investigators assigned as task force officers to the FBI, they worked collaboratively with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and their colleagues in KPD’s Organized Crime Unit to end this defendant’s contributions to creating fear in the lives of citizens who seek only to raise their families in a safe community,” said Captain Tony Willis, KPD Organized Crimes Unit. “We are likewise grateful for the support and collaboration of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in prosecuting this violent inner-city gang.”

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This conviction and sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by the Knoxville Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, Cleveland Police Department, Chattanooga Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives also assisted in this investigation by conducting drug and firearms analysis on seized evidence in the case.

Assistant United States Attorneys David P. Lewen, Jr. and Brent N. Jones represented the United States.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement against criminal networks.

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