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Case Number: 2:18-cr-00249
Judge: Michael M. Baylson
Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: Philadelphia, PA: Criminal defense lawyer represented defendant charged with violent drug trafficking.
Hans Gadson, 35, of Philadelphia, PA, was charged for his role in the Original Block Hustlaz, or “OBH,” a violent drug trafficking organization that doubled as a group of aspiring rap artists in Philadelphia whose lyrics boasted about their drug dealing and willingness to resort to violence. Three of Gadson’s co-defendants, Jamaal Blanding, 39, and Jameel Hickson, 43, both of Philadelphia, PA, and Abdul West, 38, of Brookhaven, PA, were also recently sentenced and received 25, 20, and 40 years in prison, respectively.
In November 2019, all four defendants were convicted after a two-and-a-half-week trial on charges that included conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and distribution of or possession with intent to distribute cocaine, crack, and methamphetamine. Several other co-defendants pled guilty prior to trial. In total, nine defendants connected to OBH were charged in a 16-count Second Superseding Indictment in August 2019. All nine were convicted or pled guilty.
Between at least March 2017 through June of 2018, OBH poisoned the Philadelphia community by importing dangerous narcotics, including large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine, from California to Philadelphia and then selling those drugs in the Philadelphia area. To further their drug business, OBH employed fear, intimidation, and violence. In September 2017 and May 2018, FBI agents and Philadelphia Police Department officers executed search warrants at residences on North Sydenham Street and Columbus Boulevard, which were properties used by members of OBH to store and sell drugs. During the execution of the search warrant, numerous drugs were seized, including cocaine base (“crack”), heroin, and methamphetamine mixture, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
In a related case, defendant Charles Salley, 39, of Clayton, Delaware, was sentenced in August 2021 to seven and a half years in prison for witness tampering in connection with the above-referenced trial. During the trial, a cooperating witness received a threatening letter from Salley under the pen name “Ron Harvey,” threatening physical violence if the witness testified at trial against his OBH associates. Salley was present in the courtroom during the course of the trial, including on the day of the witness’ scheduled testimony. The threatening letter was investigated by the FBI and the witness ultimately testified during the trial.
“Gadson and his OBH co-defendants pumped huge quantities of deadly drugs into our community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “As the evidence presented at trial showed, OBH wreaked havoc on the streets of Philadelphia to further their violent drug trafficking operation; their rap lyrics weren’t just about artistic expression or creating an image to sell records, but were about their reality. Our Office is determined to continue doing everything we can by being ‘All Hands On Deck’ to get violent criminals like OBH off the streets.”
This case is part of the FBI’s Violent Gang Safe Streets Task Force, a program through which federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies collaboratively address the violent crime plaguing communities. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Everett Witherell and Timothy M. Stengel. The Salley case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Ashenfelter.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 16 years and four months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.