Florida

His Keys pals say he’s too old to stay in prison. Feds want drug smuggler to stay there

Richard ‘Dickie” Lynn
Richard ‘Dickie” Lynn

Federal prosecutors are urging a judge to deny a “compassionate release” motion filed by a convicted Florida Keys cocaine smuggler serving a life sentence for an operation responsible for importing thousands of kilograms of white powder into the United States in the 1980s.

Richard “Dickie” Lynn, 64, has outserved the 21 members of his drug gang by decades because he escaped federal custody shortly after he was convicted on smuggling charges in 1989 and remained on the lam for six months.

He’s been housed at the Coleman federal penitentiary in Sumter County ever since.

However, his friends in Islamorada, including Ken Davis, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent and current city councilman, say Lynn has paid his debt to society and should be able to live out his remaining years in his native Keys, especially since he suffers from numerous ailments, including chronic heart and kidney disease.

Lynn filed a motion for compassionate release late last month, citing his health issues and that he’s approaching his 65th birthday, which is one of the Bureau of Prison’s criteria for considering a prisoner under the program.

But, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama immediately filed a motion that Lynn’s request should be sealed because it included his private health information, which delayed a decision on Lynn’s request that was expected July 1.

Although U.S. District Court Judge William H. Steele denied the Justice Department’s motion on July 3, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Gray filed another brief with the court just days earlier requesting he deny the motion, chiefly because Lynn escaped from prison in the late ‘80s.

“His disregard for the courts, his disrespect for the rule of law and his disruption of the administration of justice in his case should yield the denial of this motion,” Gray wrote in his July 1 brief.

When federal agents caught up with Lynn six months after he escaped, he was in the process of putting together another cocaine smuggling operation in Mississippi, according to court documents.

Prosecutors say that during his seven-year smuggling career, he imported “massive amounts of cocaine, at least 600 kilograms per load, into Alabama,” Gray wrote in his brief.

Still, Lynn’s support in the Keys is strong. His advocates note that he voluntarily cooperated with law enforcement working on other cases following his recapture, which resulted in convictions and stopping as much as 33,000 pounds of cocaine from hitting the streets.

The five-member Islamorada Village Council voted 4-1 in November to send a letter to President Trump pleading for his release.

Locals started a Facebook page dedicated to freeing Lynn. There is also a change.org petition started by his Coral Shores High School classmates aimed at the release of their friend.

Davis said he hopes the latest filings by Gray are just a way for Alabama federal prosecutors to save face because he thinks Steele is going to wait until Lynn turns 65 next week, July 17, to order his release.

“The guidelines for compassionate release by the BOP require the person be 65 years of age, period,” Davis said Monday. “Chances are the judge will wait till after next week when Dickie turns 65 to make his ruling. That is what everyone is hoping for.”

The King Enterprise had supplied most of the cocaine to the Perrine neighborhood for years, say authorities. On July 2, five people connected to the group were arrested on federal charges, including possession with intent to distribute narcotics.

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