By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
The last of five people implicated in an organized crime ring that sought to sell large quantities of marijuana in Killeen was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison.
Latavious Antone Graves, 20, of Fort Hood, received the stiffest sentence of the four men and one woman convicted of engaging in organized criminal activity. Graves also pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery.
Killeen police charged Graves and Killeen residents Eric Vinh Nelson, Dawn Sanchez, Jomar McNair Jones and Michael Anthony Lee with engaging in organized criminal activity after police seized 36 pounds of marijuana from Graves' vehicle in July.
Sanchez and Lee, both 21, were given probation after pleading guilty, according to Bell County Assistant District Attorney Nelson Barnes, who prosecuted the cases. Jones, 20, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Nelson, 22, received an eight-year sentence.
The Killeen Police Department's discovery of the group came after a July 1 patrol stop for a traffic violation on Stan Schlueter Loop.
An arrest affidavit states the driver - Sanchez - had failed to correctly signal a turn. Nelson was a passenger in the vehicle.
While Sanchez and Nelson were detained on the side of the road, KPD brought out a drug dog, which alerted on the vehicle. Police found a bag of pills in the car's trunk identified as methamphetamine. In Nelson's pockets, police found several hundred dollars in cash.
Through further interrogation, police became suspicious the case was beyond simple drug possession, Barnes said.
The same day, police placed surveillance on Nelson's home address. In front of the home, police spotted a vehicle surrounded by three men.
Police approached the three men after observing the vehicle to be parked illegally. Graves identified himself as the owner of the vehicle, the affidavit states.
After an officer spotted bits of marijuana and a plastic baggie containing white residue, officers called out a K-9 unit that alerted on the car for drugs.
In the trunk, police found a duffel bag containing 36 pounds of marijuana. Graves claimed Nelson placed the duffel bag in his trunk.
Graves also pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery. He robbed two individuals by threatening them with a revolver in October.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.