WEST CHESTER >>The son of an East Marlborough man who led a multi-million dollar cocaine trafficking ring that used connections with a Mexican drug cartels to brings drugs to the southern Chester County area and elsewhere has been found guilty of being a participant in the ring.
A Common Please County jury sitting in Judge James P. MacElree II’s courtroom deliberated for three hours and 15 minutes before returning with guilty verdicts on 107 counts against Francisco Javier “Frankie” Lemus on Monday.
Lemus, 25, of East Marlborough showed little reaction to the verdict when it was read by MacElree. he was taken back to Chester County Prison where he has been held on mail since his arrest in May 2014. He will be sentenced at a later date, as will his father, Salvador “Sal” Lemus, who pleaded guilty to multiple counts of drug trafficking in March.
The jury of eight men and four women had listened to six days of testimony starting April 11 in the case against the younger Lemus. The amount of evidence against him was overwhelming.
Prosecutors with the Chester County District Attorney’s Drug Unit introduced 240 separate exhibits, including he transcripts of wiretaps in which Lemus could be heard discussing alleged drug transactions; a number of search warrants, including one for the modest home that Lemus and his father, mother and sister shared; cocaine that was seized in drug transactions and found at the family home; photographs of suspected drug transactions; and various drug paraphernalia.
The exhibits also included a four-hour long aerial video of Lemus driving from Chester County to Philadelphia and elsewhere to make drug buys — portions of which the jury watched on a large video screen in the courtroom — and videos taken from so called “pole cams” — video cameras mounted on poles at various locations where Lemus was alleged to have made drug sales.
Fifteen witnesses testified against Lemus, including law enforcement personnel from a variety of agencies and jurisdictions and confidential informants who purchased cocaine from Lemus under the supervision of the Chester County Detectives Office, which supervised the investigation.
Lemus was convicted of 51 Counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, 50 counts of criminal use of a communication facility, three counts of criminal solicitation, one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of corrupt organizations, one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. The jury him not guilty on seven counts of possession with intent to deliver.
He faces a maximum of 941 years in prison. Under standard range guidelines, the prosecution is expected to ask for MacElree to sentence Lemus to decades in prison.
Lemus was represented at trial by defense attorney Marc J. Lieberman of West Chester. He argued unsuccessfully that the jury should find his client not guilty because the testimony of the drug informants who worked with police were not credible.
As many as 56 people were arrested in the year-long a year-long multi-agency probe known s Operation Telerana — or “spider’s web — targeting the trafficking network, which police said had ties to a dangerous but disbanded Mexican drug cartel known as “La Familia.” Salvator Lemus spent several months in Mexico each year and used his county home as a shipment point to other areas in the region but was also distributing large quantities of the drug locally.
Investigators determined the organization was capable of selling a kilogram of cocaine a day, but provided a more conservative estimate of about two kilograms a week. They estimated that the family had distributed about $60 million of cocaine over the past two decades.
The investigation included members of local police departments, state police, a regional drug enforcement task force, and federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.