One of the previous two remaining fugitives from the Detroit DEA’s highly-successfully Operation Falling Star targeting Quasand (Q Dawg) Lewis’s almost 200-million dollar narcotics empire was apprehended in recent months after more than a decade on the run. Former exotic dancer and accused drug mule Annette Sanchez, 35, was nabbed trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States using an entry point in Arizona back in November over Thanksgiving weekend. That leaves her boyfriend Giovanni (Big G) Ruanova, one of Lewis’ main lieutenants, as the lone co-defendant in the case remaining at-large and left to still face the music.

The Lewis organization, the Motor City’s biggest marijuana wholesale distributors of the late 1990s and early 2000s, was crushed by a summer 2005 federal indictment – a total of 32 people were arrested and charged with selling more than 66,000 bricks of weed worth 180 million bucks. The 46-year old Lewis is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence in a low-security federal correctional facility down in Florida. He’s scheduled to be paroled in 2019.

Also indicted in the Operation Falling Star case was Lewis’ first cousin and deceased pro basketball player Robert Traylor, a college All-American at the University of Michigan and 1998 NBA first-round draft pick, who helped Lewis hide his money with a fraudulent tax return tied to a pair of real estate properties (two Detroit-area apartment complexes). Traylor died of a sudden heart attack in 2011 and was cut by the last NBA franchise he suited up for (the Cleveland Cavaliers), at least partially, due to him getting embroiled in his cousins’ legal affairs.

Ruanova allegedly oversaw Lewis’ smuggling and transportation operations, coordinating loads ranging from 100 pounds to well more than 1,000 pounds of narcotics, from Mexico to Michigan via Arizona. Sanchez coordinated most of the drivers responsible for transporting the drugs and cash. Ruanova’s man on the ground in Arizona, Israel (Shorty) Corral, took off when the indictment landed in 2005 too. Corral was finally taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in 2015 living in Mexico working as a car salesman.

Lewis’ empire was shaken by a street war in late 2002 that lasted until 2004. Then simple bad luck stepped in, a crazy twist of fate inadvertently tipping the feds off to the true breadth and scope of Lewis’ dealings and opening the book on the Operation Falling Star investigation.

In early 2002, Lewis teamed up with another local drug boss Thomas (Shotgun Tommie) Hodges in bringing a series of large drug shipments up to Michigan from Mexico using a fleet of tractor trailers owned by Hodges. The business relationship fractured fast and turned violent by the end of the year. Authorities attribute 11 gangland slaying and at least four fire-bombings of businesses or private residences to the Lewis-Hodges street war.

Lewis survived an assassination attempt in September of 2002 when he was shot and wounded leaving a nightclub. Two weeks later, a bodyguard of his named McKinley (Big Mac) Tigner was killed outside his home in a hail of bullets.

Quasand Lewis

Tensions peaked on April 12, 2003 as Hodges and a pair of Lewis enforcers shot it out in front of Tiffany’s, a downtown Detroit nightclub literally a stone’s throw away from the then-Detroit Police Department headquarters located on the outskirts of the city’s Greektown entertainment district. Within minutes of arriving at the club, Hodges and his girlfriend came under automatic weapon fire from Lewis lieutenants Lamont (L-Boogie) Paris and Rhashi (Heartless) Harris while sitting and talking in Hodges’ Mercedes-Benz outside. After Hodges sped off down the block and let his girlfriend out of the vehicle, he came back guns blazing and him and the two Lewis henchmen exchanged fire in the club’s parking lot.

Neither Paris, Harris nor Hodges were wounded in the shootout, but a valet at the club was shot in the eye as Hodges sprayed the area. Paris and Harris were arrested near the scene within minutes after a high-speed chase. Hodges’ half-brother was slain in a drive-by shooting in July 2003.

Still, the police and the DEA had no real idea of what was going on organizationally in Hodges’ or Lewis’ world. That was until March 18, 2004 at the Studio Plus Hotel in Novi, Michigan after a frantic and intoxicated Spanish-speaking woman came screaming into the hotel lobby telling employees at the front desk about a dead body in her two-floor suite, prompting hotel security to call the police. A search of the suite didn’t turn up any corpses, however, Novi police officers did uncover 3.4 million dollars in cash stuffed into a number of duffle bags, a pound of marijuana, computer files and drug ledgers.

Calling in the FBI and DEA, authorities immediately traced phone records in the hotel room to Annette Sanchez and Giovanni Ruanova. From Sanchez and Ruanova, they got to Quasand Lewis and discovered that Lewis, with help from Ruanvoa, his own wife, Saeeda (Sissy) Walker and his brother-in-law Edward (Lemon) Walker, was running a massive illegal enterprise, supplying the state of Michigan and other surrounding states with enormous amounts of marijuana and pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Sissy Walker was accused of putting out a murder bounty on the heads of two men who robbed a Lewis organization stash house in the winter of 2005.

Following a May 2004 traffic stop in Oklahoma on their way driving to Arizona from Michigan, Sanchez and Ruanova were found carrying 1.8 million bucks in cash in the trunk of the rental car they were traveling in. It was the first of a half-dozen car searches and property raids over the next eight months connected to the Lewis organization that netted the feds more than five million dollars and over 4,000 pounds of marijuana.

The Hodges indictment landed in January 2005. He did just over a decade in the can and was released two years ago. He’s 44 today. Lewis was indicted in July 2005, taken into custody trying to board a commercial airliner in Cleveland. Pleading guilty in 2006, he forfeited $10,000,000 in cash and assets to the government as a part of his plea deal.

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