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Anti-Drug Organizer Charged With Federal Cocaine Trafficking


May 1995

An Oakland anti-drug crusader who helped track drug-dealing activity and evict drug-dealing tenants from suspected crack houses has been charged with federal cocaine trafficking, the result of a three-year, multi-agency investigation that netted 21 arrests (Paul Grabowicz and Craig Stants, "Cocaine Bust Nets Anti-Drug Organizer," Oakland Tribune, May 9, 1995, p. A1; Craig Stants and Ben Charny, "City Demands Audit of Safe Streets Now!" Oakland Tribune, May 10, 1995, p. A1; Ben Charny, "Records: Activist Dealt Cocaine," Oakland Tribune, May 17, 1995, p. A1).

Michael L. Simpson, 42, of Point Richmond was charged on May 5. Simpson had been a key leader of Safe Streets Now! for about 2 1/2 years.

Safe Streets Now! is a grassroots organization funded by the city of Oakland that records drug-dealing activity and works with landlords to clean up suspected crack houses.

Transcripts from wiretaps show Simpson used Safe Streets Now! offices to make calls to arrange drug transactions. Investigators say he was a low-level distributor in the drug trafficking ring.

Simpson is on leave from Safe Streets Now! and is in a drug rehabilitation program. Paul Burglin, his lawyer, said Simpson may have started working for the trafficking organization to subsidize his own cocaine habit.

Members of the group defended Simpson. "I don't see him as a person who could play both sides," said Safe Streets Now! board member Elmetra Patterson. "He couldn't fool me."

Investigators from the FBI, the California Attorney General's Office, and the DEA believe the ring imported cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), and marijuana from the Cali cartel in Colombia and from Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

In the wake of Simpson's arrest, the Oakland city council called for a review of Safe Streets Now's! finances. Just the week before, the council had allocated another $25,240 to the group. Safe Streets Now! has already received $150,000 from the city this year.