Leader of DC-area drug ring nabbed in Operation Tin Panda sentenced to 16 years

WASHINGTON — The leader of what federal prosecutors have described as a “sprawling” drug ring that operated out of the D.C. area and had connections around the U.S. has been sentenced to 16 years in prison, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Nasiru Carew, 36, of Dale City, Virginia, who was nabbed late last year as part of a massive law enforcement operation known as Operation Tin Panda, pleaded guilty in April to drug conspiracy charges.

Between 2012 and 2017, prosecutors said, Carew’s operation distributed more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana and edibles, netting hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to court documents, Carew shipped the marijuana from California to the D.C. area and then distributed it to street-level dealers. Carew’s customers included members of the violent Imperial Gangsta Blood gang, prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, the drug money financed a lavish lifestyle, including luxury vehicles — a $100,000 BMW, for example — and expensive gold and diamond jewelry.

More than 40 people were arrested in December 2017 as part of Operation Tin Panda, and 39 of them have been convicted on federal gun and drug charges, the Justice Department said.

“Operation Tin Panda has resulted in numerous guns removed from the hands of gang members and drugs taken off the streets of our neighborhoods in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland,” said FBI agent Matthew J. DeSarno in a statement. “This operation demonstrates the FBI’s ability in coordination with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle significant drug operations, removing the threat posed by the street level dealer to the national level gang leaders.”

Overall, the operation resulted in the seizure of nearly 100 firearms, $150,000 in cash, nine vehicles, and more than 300 pounds of illegal narcotics, mostly marijuana.