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Gangster Disciples Gang Member to Serve 17 Years in Federal Prison

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A Cedar Rapids man who was an active member of the Gangster Disciples street gang was sentenced Monday to more than 17 years in federal prison.

Benjamin Owens, Jr., 25, pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and possession of a firearm as a felon. At the plea hearing, Owens admitted he and his co-conspirators agreed to distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine. Owens also admitted to possessing a firearm after a prior felony conviction.

While he was in jail pending trial, before his plea of guilty, Owens made several threatening phone calls to a potential trial witness, according to court records. Owens had previously threatened a second witness prior to his arrest.

Owens must also serve an eight year term of supervised release after serving his prison time. As a condition of his supervised release, he also was ordered to have no contact with the witnesses he threatened or any association with other gang members.

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