Court Security

Feds seek 3 men who went AWOL just before guilty verdict in major drug case


Apparently aware that their case wasn’t going well, three defendants in a major drug case in Detroit appeared in federal court Monday at the conclusion of a two-week trial but skipped out before the guilty verdict was read.

A manhunt is underway for Carlos Powell, 39, Eric Powell, 36, and Earnest Proge Jr., 38, who face as much as life in prison when they are sentenced, according to Reuters.

The three had been free on unsecured bond, as is common in federal court in Detroit, the Detroit News reports.

“The judge said, ‘We have a verdict.’ And they were gone,” spokeswoman Gina Balaya of the U.S. Attorney’s office told the Detroit Free Press.

The defendants had been told to stay near the courthouse and got a call to return to the courtroom at 12:15 p.m. because a verdict had been reached, according to Deadline Detroit and the Detroit News. However, Carlos Powell cut his tether at 12:33 p.m., according to courtroom testimony.

The courtroom was filled with prosecutors, defense lawyers and federal agents, but there was no sign of the missing defendants as the verdict was read at approximately 1 p.m.

“These guys are into the wind. I think it’s outrageous,” Murphy said as he issued bench warrants and ordered a federal marshal standing in the courtroom gallery to find the defendants today. There will be no bond this time around, he noted.

Authorities said the two Powell brothers are ringleaders in a drug-dealing operation that involves semitrailer trucks, tens of millions in laundered cash and massive quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

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