A Chicago drug dealer who prosecutors said supplied a large amount of heroin to sources in Chattanooga was found guilty by a federal jury in Chattanooga on Tuesday.
James Silas, 50, was convicted of conspiring to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.
Sentencing is set for April 24 at 2 p.m.
by Judge Curtis Collier, who presided over the trial. Based on a prior drug conviction and a corresponding notice of enhancement filed by the United States, Silas faces a statutory mandatory minimum of 20 years to life in prison, to be followed by no fewer than 10 years of supervision by U.S. Probation. He also faces a fine of up to $20 million.
Witnesses at trial testified that Silas, who is reputed to be a member of the nationwide street gang Mafia Insane Vice Lords and known by the moniker “the Prince,” served as a multi-kilogram source of supply to heroin distributors and fellow gang members based in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Atlanta and elsewhere.
Beginning in 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted a series of court-authorized wiretaps on a number of telephones belonging to gang members as a component of the large-scale investigation. Through these wiretaps, they discovered the involvement of Silas in this interstate conspiracy. Silas was arrested in Illinois and brought to the Eastern District of Tennessee for trial.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA, in conjunction with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, and with the assistance of local and federal law enforcement agencies in the Chicago area. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kyle Wilson and Scott Winne represented the United States at trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Porter indicted the case and handled pre-trial matters.
Silas took the witness stand during his trial, denying that he sold drugs, though admitting he was a close associate of a drug kingpin in Atlanta who earlier pleaded guilty and got a 10-year sentence.