By MARY RAINWATER
A 33-year-old Palestine man was issued a 20-year sentence by State District Judge Bascom W. Bentley III on Monday for his role as part of an organized drug ring that operated in the area from 2008-2010.
Jamie Cortez Clewis, one of the last drug dealers targeted in operation “All in the Family,” received the sentence for the charge of engaging in organized crime.
According to Anderson County Criminal District Attorney Doug Lowe, “All in the Family” was a joint investigation and prosecution by the district attorney’s office and a number of other agencies which culminated in 2010 with the arrest and subsequent convictions of Derrick Deon Hicks, 39, of Palestine and other persons who were distributing crack cocaine.
Hicks, who was sentenced to 180 months in federal prison on June 27, 2011, headed the cocaine distribution network which sold crack cocaine in Palestine between 2008 and 2010, according to Lowe.
“The Hicks organization would purchase cocaine from the big dealers in Houston and the gulf coast and then bring the drugs to Houston where the cocaine would be converted to 'crack,'” Lowe explained.
“Clewis was a mid-level dealer for Hicks and participated in the drug distribution network by converting powder cocaine to 'crack cocaine,'” he said. “His guilty plea and this 20-year substantial sentence is the result of a lot of hard work by local and federal law enforcement.”
Crack cocaine is made by mixing cocaine in powder form with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or another chemical and cooking it in a microwave oven. “Crack” gets its name from the sound the cooking process creates.
The operation’s task force included peace officers, prosecutors, cooperating individuals and undercover operatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Attorneys Office - Eastern District of Texas, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Palestine Police Department, and the Anderson County District Attorney’s office.
“Sustained cooperative operations such as ‘All In The Family’ are expensive and sometimes don’t return immediate results,” Lowe said. “But targeting the larger dealers gets the tree at its roots rather than just picking the fruit.”