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Second leader in 'Delta Blues' case pleads guilty

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published April 24, 2012 at 10:25 a.m.

— The second of two men named as leaders of a major drug trafficking organization in a federal indictment that resulted in dozens of arrests has pleaded guilty.

Leon Edwards, 34, entered the plea Tuesday morning before U.S. District Judge James Moody, admitting guilt to a charge of conspiracy to possess crack cocaine with intent to distribute. In exchange, other counts against him were dismissed.

The plea is conditional on Moody imposing a 22-year sentence. That will come at a later date after a pre-sentence report is complete, though Moody indicated he would "in all probability" impose the agreed-upon sentence.

Edwards and Sedrick Trice were top-level drug dealers in an operation in Phillips County that distributed cocaine and marijuana in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Edwards on Tuesday listened as prosecutors detailed the case against him and then acknowledged he was an organizer of the drug conspiracy.

Seventy defendants were indicted in the operation, dubbed Operation Delta Blues, including five law enforcement officers from the Helena-West Helena area.

Trice was the first defendant to plead guilty. He was sentenced last week to 40 years in prison.

Earlier Tuesday, another Delta Blues defendant, 38-year-old Russell Taylor, pleaded guilty to maintaining a drug premises.

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