Task force busts meth ring; 40, including bikers, charged

Jeffrey "Death Row" Hampton (right), arrested in meth bust.
Jeffrey "Death Row" Hampton (right), arrested in meth bust.
Posted: August 25, 2009

William Lees and his buddies - Death Row, Santa Claus, the Boss, Panhead, Cricket and Stone Cold - they had a hell of a thing going.

For six months, Lees, of Port Richmond, distributed 28 pounds of crystal methamphetamine imported from Mexico to drug peddlers and Outlaws Motorcycle Gang members in Philadelphia, law-enforcement officials say.

In turn, the dealers and gang members allegedly moved the crystal meth, worth about $2.5 million, across the city, suburbs and New Jersey.

Lees' distribution ring, despite being a motley crew of 55 members, was highly organized and ran smoothly, authorities said.

But the sweet ride is over. State Attorney General Tom Corbett yesterday announced the arrest of Lees, 24 of his distributors and 15 Outlaws members.

All were charged with a variety of offenses, including multiple counts of criminal conspiracy, possession with the intent to deliver and criminal use of a communication facility (cell phones).

The distribution ring was busted by "Operation Ice Breaker," an 11-month investigation that involved the Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics, Philadelphia police, New Jersey State Police and others.

"This case demonstrates how far and how deeply drug organizations can reach into our communities," Corbett said in a release.

"The meth pipeline fueled addiction and crime that stretched all the way from Mexico to Philadelphia, its suburbs and South Jersey."

According to grand-jury court documents, the crystal meth arrived in Philly by way of Jose Torres, Lees' alleged connection to another drug organization in Atlanta.

Beginning in September, Torres, his girlfriend, Rebecca Guirate, and another cohort, Andrew Bernard, delivered 10 ounces of crystal meth every 10 to 14 days to Lees' house on Tulip Street near Allegheny Avenue, in Port Richmond, according to the documents.

Torres, 41, charged Lees, 55, $1,700 per ounce. Lees then peddled the meth - often for more than $2,000 per ounce - to his distributors in Philly, Bucks and Chester counties and South Jersey, documents show.

Among those who sold meth for Lees were Philly residents Joseph "Stone Cold" Larkins, 39; James "Cricket" Krause, 50, and Richard Mulharan, 42, authorities said.

Mulharan allegedly served as starting point for the investigation last September, when state narcotics agents had an informant purchase crystal meth from Mulharan seven times, court document show.

Investigators determined that Lees was Mulharan's supplier. Authorities tapped both men's cell phones and started to piece together a much larger case.

Along the way, authorities learned that Lees was also supplying the Outlaws with crystal meth on "a daily basis," documents show.

Authorities intercepted hundreds of cell-phone calls between Lees and Outlaws members, including Jeffrey "Death Row" Hampton, 36; William "Halzie" Hall, 52, and Thomas "The Boss" Zaroff Jr., 36, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Outlaws, headquartered at Somerset and Amber streets.

Other outlaws involved in the meth ring included Jeffrey "Santa Claus" Taylor, 54; Charles "Panhead" Rees, 53, and Norman "Stormin' Norman" Taylor, 45, officials said.

When discussing crystal-meth transactions, Lees and the Outlaws used a variety of code words for their product, including "cans of paint," "tickets," "sandwiches" and the "Daily News," according to court documents.

The Outlaws' reach extended into Montgomery County and South Jersey. The Outlaws also peddled more than $200,000 worth of crack cocaine, authorities said.

Lees' alleged enterprise ground to a halt on March 20, when investigators served 34 search warrants on the homes of those involved.

For a full list of those charged, visit www.phillyconfidential.com

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