Federal prosecutors are taking charge of cases against four of five people arrested at two downtown Ogden motels for alleged possession of crack cocaine.
The cases are moving from the Ogden state court to Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court because of the amount of drugs seized and because police believe there may be a link to the Los Angeles drug trade.Federal drug penalties are stiffer than state penalties in large-amount possession cases.
Police said they seized more than $5,000 worth of cocaine in both its crack and powder form during raids on the motels Wednesday night.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Gary Heward said at least two of the defendants are linked to Los Angeles-area gangs.
John H. McCovery, 54; Kirby Washington, 26, and Lorraine Hunter, 32, all of Los Angeles, and Brenda R. Jackson, 31, of Layton, will be tried in federal court, authorities said.
Police allege McCovery and Washington have connections with the Los Angeles-based Crips gang. Ogden Lt. Steve Turner said Washington has Crips tattoos and McCovery, at the time he was arrested, wore a belt with the words "Hoover Street Pops" written on it.
Hoover Street is a Crips-affiliated gang, police said.
A fifth suspect, Lisa Richardson, 19, of Los Angeles, will remain in the state court system, Heward said.