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2 L.A. Gang Members Get Harsh Terms for Seattle Dope Dealing

From Times Wire Services

Two members of a Los Angeles street gang were sent to federal prison for 15 years Friday for dealing crack cocaine on the streets here.

Varian (Legs) Leonard and Kelvin (Elevin) Tiggs were convicted in federal court of conspiracy to bring cocaine from Los Angeles to Seattle and distribute it through six houses between October, 1987, and April, 1988.

Both men received mandatory minimum prison terms under new guidelines passed by Congress.

Their convictions were part of a joint federal-local effort to clamp down on the infiltration into the Pacific Northwest by Los Angeles drug dealers, many of whom are current or former gang members.

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Assistant U.S. Atty. Andrew Hamilton argued for a stiffer sentence for Tiggs because he had been one of the first in a wave of about 300 Los Angeles street gang members to migrate to the Northwest to sell crack.

But U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour decided not to give either defendant any more than the minimum terms, saying that neither had been involved in violence while in the Northwest.

Authorities said Leonard and Tiggs were members of the same gang “set,” the Nine-Deuce Hoover Crips. A third drug-dealing member of the set, Derrick (Vamp) Hargress, was sentenced last month to 25 years in prison. He was accused of shooting a 16-year-old youth near Seattle’s Garfield High School last October.

Coughenour said that with the sentencing of Hargress, “the message had gotten out” that law enforcement agencies in the Northwest are tough on drugs.

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Among six other Los Angeles gang members who have been sentenced through the federal-local task force, two received 12 years, one got 10 years and two got five years, U.S. Atty. Gene Wilson said.

Leonard and Tiggs were convicted under tougher laws that deal with operating a “continuing criminal enterprise” rather than simple possession of drugs with intent to distribute them.


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