Slow and sloppy work by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the 1990s allowed alleged Detroit drug lord Brian (Peanut) Brown to slip away from cocaine trafficking charges 20 years ago. A federal judge threw out the case against a then-27 year old Brown for failure to give him a speedy trial. It didn’t really matter at the end of the day though since barely a year and a half later he wound up behind bars in a separate, but similar case.

Peanut Brown, 47 today, is at the center of a DEA inquiry into wholesale heroin dealing which began in late 2012 and was chronicled in an article by The Detroit News earlier this week. Authorities paint him as the top heroin czar in the whole Midwest, using his Motown-based BMB Records rap-music label as a front for his criminal activities.

Brown was arrested on June 9, 1992 in an FBI sting trying to buy 20 kilos of cocaine from an undercover agent. At the time of his arrest, he had $166,000 in cash in the trunk of his car. That night, Brown was released into the care of his attorney John Royal under the condition that he would surrender himself when he was indicted. Later that month, Royal wrote the U.S. Attorney’s Office, asking on the status of the case and informing them that he would produce his client following being notified of the charges being officially filed.

Due to deprioritizing, Brown didn’t get indicted until December 1992 and an arrest warrant wasn’t issued until February 1993, neither of which Royal was provided notice of or asked to aid in producing Brown for booking. Over the next several months, the FBI tried unsuccessfully to apprehend Brown, one attempt even resulting in a car chase through a residential neighborhood. In November 1993, Brown was ruled a fugitive and his case given over to the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

It took almost four years for the law to catch up to Peanut Brown. He was finally taken into custody on October 9, 1996 for carrying a concealed weapon after a routine traffic stop by the Michigan State Police.

Again, however, the case languished. Responsibility for the prosecution of the case shifted between multiple U.S. Attorneys over the next few months and Royal filed a motion for a speedy trial on Brown’s behalf in January 1997, sensing the disorganization of the prosecution and pushing to get the evidence before a jury as soon as possible.

Brown was transferred from state to federal custody that summer, but still the U.S. Attorney’s Office remained unprepared for trial. Court records show the FBI agents assigned to Brown’s case and the U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case didn’t have their first meeting to discuss particulars until that July.

On October 29, 1997, the judge dismissed all the charges against Brown on the grounds that the government failed to give him a speedy trial and immediately set him free. He was out of handcuffs for 15 months. Brown would be indicted again on cocaine conspiracy charges by a federal grand jury on January 20, 1999.

Found guilty at trial, he did more than a decade in the can prior to emerging in 2010 and beginning to craft his new image as a hip hop mogul and reputed heroin kingpin – his BMB label boasts Detroit rap luminary Trick Trick, up-and-coming rapper-actor Bre-Z, rapper and reality television star Ray J and seasoned female rapper Charli Baltimore, the former queen of all of hip hop when she dated the legendary Notorious B.I.G. in the year leading up to his tragic March 1997 slaying. According to an affidavit, Baltimore and Brown were romantically involved until last spring when Brown beat her up.

Besides the ongoing DEA probe into his affairs and the business practices of BMB, Brown has other legal worries. Currently out on bond, he’s facing an illegal gun-possession case he was hit with in March 2016. Brown’s lawyer for the case is the esteemed Steve Fishman. Royal is representing his wife and business partner Akia Brown as she is reportedly a person of interest in the DEA investigation as well.

Related Post

Leave a Reply