Court documents relating to a DCPS employee arrested last week on federal drug charges link the woman to a previous conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the country using a cruise ship and packages of drugs hidden in women’s bras.
A “Notice of Pendency of Other Actions” filed along with the indictment of DCPS business manager Rita Gray shows federal prosecutors believe Gray is linked to the cases of four other DC area women arrested in May.
In the May case, four women were recruited by unknown persons to go on a seven day Caribbean cruise. While in port in Jamaica, federal charging documents show, the women met up with an unnamed man in a van on a beach. They exchanged a roughly five inch stack of twenty dollar bills for a bag. Inside the bag, they found bras and girdles stuffed with pouches of cocaine.
The women wore the undergarments under loose fitting clothes, but nerves got to the group’s youngest member, 32-year old Ciera Bryant. Her “hands and voice were shaking, and Bryant was not making eye-contact” with the border patrol agent who screened her at customs.
Upon secondary screening, agents discovered the cocaine hidden in her clothes. Bryant’s traveling companions; Lakisha Abney, Shawnta Aiken and Shenique Milbourne were quickly rounded up and searched. All told, agents seized nearly 15 pounds of cocaine, with a street value likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The four women each pled guilty to federal drug charges and received sentences varying from less than two years to more than eight. An attorney for one of the women said three of the four cooperated with federal prosecutors seeking to learn more about who organized the plot, and where the drugs were headed once they reached US shores.
The indictment of Gray provides little detail on her connection to the plot. The US attorney’s office in Florida investigating the case did not immediately return a request for comment, nor did an attorney listed as representing Gray.
Gray is now on administrative leave from her job at DCPS.