Roc-a-Fella Records founder charged in drug case

Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:27pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A hip-hop mogul who founded Roc-a-Fella Records with rapper Jay-Z was among 50 people charged on Friday with trafficking tons of marijuana to New York from Florida and California, authorities said.

Kareem Burke, also known as Biggs, was arrested at his home in Bergen, New Jersey, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers said. Another 44 people have been arrested and charged with drug trafficking, while five remain at large, prosecutors said in a statement.

Among the 45 arrested was Matthew Stang, a writer and advertising representative for High Times, a New York-based marijuana advocacy magazine.

All 50 people charged face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Burke and Stang are accused of being a part of a group that trafficked marijuana in the United States from 1992 to 2010.

"These criminal organizations have allegedly dominated the illegal marijuana market in New York City for almost 20 years," said Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent-In-Charge James Hayes.

"The high-profile nature of some of the alleged members of these organizations is especially troubling," he said.

Roc-A-Fella Records, which Burke founded in 1996 with Jay-Z and Damon Dash, is a now a Universal Music Group label.

(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr; editing by Michelle Nichols and Todd Eastham)