Meth and Cocaine Distribution Leader known as “Picasso” Sentenced
Tattoo artist sold large quantiles of illegal drugs in the Indianapolis area
Indianapolis (STL.News) Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress announced today that Kenyatta Ray, 43, Indianapolis, was sentenced to 278 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge James R. Sweeney for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
“The violence and social devastation that methamphetamine brings to our communities is a problem that law enforcement must address.” said Childress. “In addition to illegal drugs, our communities have suffered too much violence at the hands of felons in possession of firearms. Preventing violent crime through dismantling drug trafficking organizations and taking guns out of the hands of those unable to possess a firearm, remains a top priority of my office and I will use every available federal resource to help keep our communities safe.”
Starting in February 2019, federal agents began investigating an Indianapolis based methamphetamine and cocaine distribution organization. Throughout the investigation it was determined that a part time tattoo artist named Kenyatta Ray a.k.a. Picasso was the leader, John Michael Griffin and others transported the methamphetamine and other illegal drugs to Indianapolis to be distributed, and Amanda Rodriguez, as well as Ray were the ones who delivered the illegal drugs to the customers.
Ray would be contacted, usually by phone, and a certain amount of methamphetamine and or other illegal drugs were requested. Then Ray and or Rodriguez would meet the buyer at a predetermined location and deliver the illegal drugs to the buyer. On several occasions the buyer would be an undercover federal agent.
In July 2019, agents conducted search warrants at the residence where Ray was staying, the tattoo shop where Ray worked part time, and at Rodriguez’s residence in Indianapolis. During those searches, multiple firearms belonging to Ray were discovered as well as illegal drugs and other items associated with drug trafficking. The investigation also confirmed that Ray was laundering illegal drug proceeds by having them wired to his California based source of drug supply.
Ray has a lengthy criminal history which includes eight felony drug convictions in both Indianapolis and Los Angeles, California, as well as felony firearms convictions in both cities (to include Assault with a Firearm in Los Angeles).
Ray’s accomplices, Amanda Rodriguez and John Michael Griffin have already been sentenced.
Rodriguez sentenced to 64 months in federal prison, followed by two years’ supervised release.
Griffin sentenced to 168 months in federal prison, followed by five years’ supervised release.
This case was investigated by the DEA, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Michael Gannon said, “Operation Picasso was a perfect example of how local, federal and state law enforcement partners collaborated at the highest possible levels and crushed a violent drug trafficking organization operating out of central Indiana. DEA and our partners remain committed to keeping our communities safe and holding drug traffickers like Mr. Ray accountable for trying to destroy our communities with debilitating drugs like methamphetamine.”
“The sentencing of Kenyatta Ray is a decisive blow against the spread of methamphetamine in the community,” said Tamera Cantu, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation Chicago Field Office. “All financial transactions leave a trail and our special agents have the unique expertise to follow those leads. IRS Criminal Investigation was proud to provide this financial expertise as we worked alongside our law enforcement partners and bring these brutal criminals to justice.”
“Ray and his associates have a demonstrated history of poisoning our communities with drugs and violence,” stated Roland H. Herndon, Jr., Special Agent in Charge for ATF’s Columbus Field Division. “ATF and our partners will continue to target the sources of criminal activity for investigation and prosecution. We will not give up and we will continue to work to ensure that anyone who is using a firearm to further their criminal enterprise, especially those who are prohibited from possessing a gun, are brought to justice.”
According to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Brady, who prosecuted this case for the government, Ray must pay a $2500 fine and will serve 10 years supervised released after his imprisonment.
This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
In November of 2020, Acting United States Attorney John E. Childress renewed a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges.