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‘Vice Lords’ gang member sentenced

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jul 2, 2014 at 10:35 PM

Another local member of the Vice Lords gang was sentenced to federal prison.

Jeffery Jermaine Benson, 31, pleaded guilty and was sentenced for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine and a quantity of cocaine and marijuana and for discharging of a firearm during and in relationship to a drug trafficking crime.

In 2011, a federal grand jury indicted 17 mid-state individuals, including 11 members of the Vice Lords gang and their drug suppliers, for varying drug, violence and weapons charges stemming back several years.

Of those arrested, 11 were Lebanon residents, including Benson.

The original arrests were the result of a three-year investigation that included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Lebanon police, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and White County Sheriff’s investigators, Sparta police and Tennessee Highway Patrol.

According to the original indictments, the gang “engaged in distribution of large quantities of controlled substances (including, but not limited to, marijuana and cocaine), the illegal possession and distribution of firearms and acts of violence, including attempted murder, assault, murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit the foregoing acts in Wilson, Putnam and Davidson counties.”

The indictment also alleged members of the conspiracy and their associates “robbed rival drug dealers of controlled substances and proceeds derived from the sale of controlled substances, promoted a climate of fear through violence and threats of violence, and used and threatened to use physical violence against various individuals.”

As of June 26, Benson was the most recent member sentenced to federal prison from the list of those previously indicted.

Benson was sentenced to serve 251 months, or just less than 21 years, for the charges, with 131 months coming from the drug charge and 120 months coming from the weapons charge. They are to be served consecutively.

The court recommended Benson be incarcerated near South Carolina to be close to family.

Following his release, Benson will also serve five years of supervised probation.

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