Crime

Former spring break promoter has faced federal drug charges before, records show

Keith Brown
Keith Brown Harrison County jail

Facing federal drug-trafficking charges in Mississippi isn't anything new to former black spring break promoter Keith Lavell Brown, court records show.

Brown is not associated with the official Biloxi Black Beach weekend events at the Coast Coliseum this year, when record crowds are expected April 13-15.

However, Biloxi city officials and police chiefs in Biloxi and Gulfport have attended meetings with Brown this year to discuss the availability of beachfront property he can rent for parking for spring breakers.

In fact, Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said he was set to meet with Brown on Monday, but Brown was in custody on the drug charges.

In 1999, Brown was first arrested by federal authorities when a grand jury indicted him on allegations of heading up a marijuana drug-trafficking organization in the city of Forest, where he owned a music store.

The grand jury in that case also indicted Brown on charges of conspiracy to distribute nearly 100 pounds of marijuana in February 1990 and attempted laundering of around $127,000 in alleged drug money, court records show.

Brown, who was among seven accused in the drug distribution ring, later pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering and received a 113-month federal prison sentence.

On Monday, federal authorities announced a new indictment, this time in Gulfport, on allegations Brown was running a cocaine-trafficking ring and conspired with co-defendant Jaycie Mario Thomas, 35, of Ocean Springs to distribute 5 kilos while he was serving as a spring break promoter.

The alleged crimes occurred beginning in 2009, the indictment says.

Brown was an official promoter of black spring break weekends in Biloxi from 2009 until 2014.

If convicted on the latest charges, Brown could go to prison for life.

In addition to federal charges, Biloxi police arrested Brown last years on tax evasion charges. One charge is still pending.

He was scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Tuesday, but the hearing was moved to Friday.

Margaret Baker, 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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