The leader of a Bay Area crack cocaine ring has been sentenced in federal court in Oakland to nearly 20 years in prison. Desean Gardner, 33, of East Palo Alto, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken to 19 years and seven months in prison. Gardner pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiring to manufacture and sell crack cocaine. He admitted in a plea agreement to distributing more than 5 kilograms of the drug between March 2008 and the time of his arrest in March 2009, and to being the “organizer and leader” of the operation.
Prosecutors said in court papers that the cocaine sales spanned the cities of East Palo Alto, San Jose, Hayward, Oakland and Stockton. Gardner bought powder cocaine and cooked it into crack cocaine for sale in quantities ranging from one-eighth of an ounce for $75 to one ounce for $600, according to his plea agreement.
The drug ring was dismantled as a result of court-approved wiretaps on two mobile phones Gardner used to conduct the cocaine sales, prosecutors said. Gardner’s lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Jerome Matthews, said in a sentencing brief that Gardner had an abusive childhood, having been born to a crack-addicted mother who was pimped as a prostitute by his father.
Gardner has been in custody since his arrest and will begin serving his sentence immediately.
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