By Cody Mello-Klein | [email protected]
A multi-agency investigation spanning Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland resulted in the indictment of 17 people on racketeering charges, and one on a murder charge, on June 23, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter.
“There was a lengthy multi-agency investigation into what is alleged to be a multi-state complex drug trafficking organization, and as a result of that investigation, a total of 17 people were indicted,” Porter said in an interview.
The organization is allegedly tied to the sale of large amounts of marijuana throughout the DMV.
“All of them have been charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering and one of them, Mr. [Mohammed] Shareef, has been charged with first degree murder, use of a firearm in commission of murder and conspiracy to commit racketeering. And it is alleged that the murder was committed in furtherance of the racketeering organization,” Porter said.
It is alleged that Shareef, 23, of Cosa Mesta, California, shot and killed Yousef Omar, 23, of Texas, on Nov. 7, 2020 in the 4800 block of West Braddock Road. At about 3:17 p.m. on the day in question, officers arrived at the scene and found Omar with a gunshot wound on his upper body. It was the third homicide in the city in 2020.
The first-degree murder charge bears a maximum sentence of life in the penitentiary, while the use of a firearm charge carries a maximum penalty of three years, according to a news release. The racketeering charges could result in a maximum of 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
The Alexandria Police Department’s vice/narcotics unit led the investigation into this drug trafficking organization, with assistance from 21 law enforcement agencies. The investigation involved agencies at the local, state and federal levels and spanned not only the DMV but California as well.
“The collaborative effort between the partner law enforcement agencies shows true professionalism and determination to halt the cycle of violence inherent in complex drug trafficking organizations,” Porter said in a statement. “The cooperation between agencies exhibited in this case provides a new paradigm for complex, multi-state investigations.”
The Alexandria Police Department declined to comment on the active and ongoing investigation.
Throughout the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized at least 23 firearms, including three assault rifles and multiple high-capacity magazines. Investigative agencies across multiple jurisdictions also seized at least $274,795; more than 150 pounds of highgrade marijuana, which is worth about $500,000; cocaine and other controlled substances; electronic money counting machines; fake identification cards and driver’s licenses; and vehicles used to further the organization’s racketeering, according to the release.
“Firearms and violence follow racketeering organizations as the number of weapons seized and the alleged murder charge illustrate,” Porter said in a statement. “Illegal money, no matter how it is obtained, begets the potential for robbery, assault, and homicide.”
Shareef is currently in custody in California and waiting to be extradited to Alexandria. Although no trial dates have been officially set, according to Porter, the other 16 defendants will likely have an initial hearing in circuit court next week, followed by trial dates sometime in the fall.