A former probation officer was sentenced Friday to nearly four years in prison for obstructing a federal grand jury investigation into armed drug traffickers and gang members.
According to court documents, Abass Conteh, 28, of Dumfries, served as a Virginia Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Officer working in Prince William County in 2017.
As part of his duties, Conteh met with law enforcement officers and discussed ongoing criminal investigations, including with a county police gang detective. During the course of 2017, Conteh used his cell phone and social media accounts to convey confidential law enforcement information about ongoing federal investigations into drug traffickers and gang members, federal prosecutors said.
Conteh learned this information from the detective and other sources. During these communications, Conteh provided advice to individuals under investigation on how to avoid being prosecuted, according to a Department of Justice news release.
For example, Conteh informed his cousin Nasiru Carew, a multi-time convicted felon who was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison in August 2018, that federal law enforcement were investigating the individuals who supplied local rappers with guns, money and drugs, court documents show.
Conteh revealed further information to Carew which he learned from the gang detective, including revealing the identities of several individuals who the "FEDS" were investigating, as well as the strategy of the investigation.
In March 2017, Conteh informed Carew that federal law enforcement were investigating Tarvell Vandiver, who was the leader of the Imperial Gangsta Blood gang, federal prosecutors said.
Carew later passed this information to Vandiver, who he had conspired to distribute controlled substances. Vandiver was later sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
In December 2017, the gang detective informed Conteh that federal law enforcement were investigating Alpha Kamara, who was later sentenced to five years in federal prison, and his sources of supply for narcotics. Shortly thereafter, Conteh revealed the information to Carew and later another individual. Conteh wrote, “[The PWCPD detective] brought All their names up. He never brought their names up until Alpha got womped. The feds goal is to find the supplier for the guns and drugs… They can’t do [expletive] to nobody if alpha [Kamara] don’t snitch,” according to court records.
Conteh, Carew, Vandiver, and Kamara were prosecuted as part of Operation Tin Panda, which has resulted in 48 federal convictions and was investigated as part of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.