COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors indicted 27 people Thursday for their roles in a scheme to distribute drugs and promote prostitution in Boone County.
U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson said the indictments should disrupt what she described as a large-scale conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, primarily in Columbia.
"You make an impact when you take 27 violent criminals off the streets in one day," Dickinson said.
She said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives worked on the investigation with local law enforcement agencies in central Missouri.
Fifteen of the 27 people indicted by a federal grand jury are from Columbia. Others are from central Missouri cities outside Boone County, including Boonville, Fulton and Jefferson City.
They face numerous charges, including conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, felony possession of a firearm and use of a phone for unlawful activity, meaning prostitution.
Dickinson said Kenneth Scott, Sr. of Fulton and Malcolm Desean Redmon of Columbia are the two primary participants in the crime ring.
Scott, 46, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, felony possession of a firearm and six counts of using a phone to facilitate a drug trafficking conspiracy.
Redmon, 31, is charged with three counts of conspiracy to distribute and possession of cocaine and crack cocaine, as well as two counts of maintaining a drug-involved premise. He also faces 12 counts of using a phone to promote prostitution and distribute drugs and one count of interstate commerce of prostitution.
Redmon and Scott are among six defendants charged with holding more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.
Both Scott and Redmon's attorneys declined to comment.
Dickinson said Redmon led a drug-trafficking ring starting in January. Redmon later started a prostitution ring to "diversify" his business, according to the indictments.
Also known as "Harp," Redmon reportedly traded drugs for information on how to run a prostitution business and to employ a prostitute. Redmon in July rented two rooms in a Columbia motel and made calls to recruit women to work for him as prostitute, according to the documents.
Scott was arrested Aug. 5 for felony possession of a .40-caliber pistol with a scratched-off serial number, as well as a .380-caliber pistol and a .22 caliber pistol. He previously had been convicted of delivery of a controlled substance, drug trafficking and possession of a controlled substance in a correctional facility.
Dickinson said gang-related activity first drew police attention to the crime ring but declined to comment further on what prompted the 18-month investigation.
Dickinson also declined to comment on where the drugs came from.
Redmon, along with 20 others, has since been arrested and is being held by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Dickinson said police on Thursday were tracking down the remaining five defendants.