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Vice Lords trial begins
Oct 10, 2012 4:30 pm
Trial began Tuesday for one of 17 mid-state individuals indicted last September for alleged roles in a large-scale drug distribution conspiracy involving the Vice Lords gang.
Monique “Money” Smith, 41, of Cookeville, appeared in Nashville Federal Court to face charges, including conspiracy to distribute crack, cocaine and marijuana, as well as possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.
Lebanon figured prominently in the case, which garnered widespread attention last year due to the scope and severity of the alleged crimes – 11 of the 17 individuals charged are from Lebanon.
Smith is one of only three of the individuals charged who has not pleaded to charges.
“This tells you how great of a case that we had that you now have 14 of the 17 have pleaded,” said Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen.
The investigation began as a collaboration between the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, the Lebanon Police Department and the FBI, and numerous other law enforcement agencies quickly joined the efforts.
“They pretty much used this area as their corridor to run drugs back and forth [along I-40],” said Bowen.
He said the case is a symptom of a larger problem of gangs in and around Lebanon.
“We’re not done – this is just the beginning,” said Bowen. “We understand that a lot of these people [in gangs] are responsible for our violent crimes that happen in this city.”
Jermaine “Blue” Jackson, 25, and Sterling “Little Real” Rivers, 25, both of Lebanon, are still awaiting trial.
Smith, Jackson and Rivers each face a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.
Staff writer Sara McManamy-Johnson may be reached at 44-3952, ext. 16 or firstname.lastname@example.org.