Harford drug ring leader sentenced to 20 years in jail

One of the leaders of a large drug distribution ring busted in Harford County in 2008 was sentenced this week to 20 years in prison.

Tanya Valencia Mack, 40, of Abingdon, was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. to 20 years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for possession with the intent to distribute powder and crack cocaine. A federal jury convicted Mack on Feb. 14.

She was a fugitive for 14 months, until her arrest on Dec. 8, 2009.

Also involved in the drug ring were Tanya Mack's siblings, Candis Mack and Winston Mack, as well as Tanya Mack's boyfriend, Fernando Alexander Settles, and another man, Derrick Lamont Prather.

According to evidence presented at the four-day trial, as part of an investigation into drug dealing in Harford County being conducted by the Harford County Task Force, law enforcement was authorized to intercept cellular telephones used by Candis Mack, Tanya Mack, Winston Mack and Fernando Settles. Settles was the boyfriend of Tanya Mack and lived with her during the conspiracy.

A number of calls were played at the trial.

In the calls, Tanya Mack uses coded language to request that Winston Mack purchase cutting agents for the cocaine and that he convert powder cocaine to crack cocaine. Numerous other calls intercepted over Tanya Mack's phone involved her contacting customers to arrange narcotics transactions, including calls which revealed that after the transaction occurred, the drugs were either swallowed or discarded by customers in order to avoid detection by law enforcement when the customers' vehicles were stopped. Other calls describe both the type and quantity of drugs sold by Settles and Winston Mack.

Investigators also learned that Candis Mack would be traveling to New Jersey on Feb. 12, 2008 to buy cocaine. As Mack drove back to Maryland, Maryland State Police stopped her car on a traffic violation and seized more than a kilogram of cocaine and $2,600. In addition, investigators seized crack cocaine and marijuana from Winston Mack, and approximately a quarter kilo of powder cocaine was seized from Settles. According to co-defendant Prather's plea agreement, after hearing Candis Mack and Prather discuss by phone the quantity and price of cocaine, on March 5, 2008, investigators searched Prather's residence and seized more than 11 ounces of cocaine, a digital scale, a cutting agent and over $10,000.

Quarles previously sentenced Candis Mack, 36, of Joppa, to 135 months in prison for possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. On April 10, 2009, a jury convicted co-defendants Fernando Alexander Settles, 30, of Abingdon, and Winston Charles Mack, 35, of Edgewood, of drug trafficking offenses and they were sentenced to 240 months and 136 months in prison, respectively. A fourth defendant, Derrick Lamont Prather, 33, of Havre de Grace, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The sentence was announced by Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein; Harford County Sheriff L. Jesse Bane; Col. Terrence Sheridan, superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Chief Henry Trabert, of the Aberdeen Police Department; Chief Teresa Walter, of the Havre de Grace Police Department; Special Agent in Charge Ava Cooper-Davis, of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; and Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly.

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