Their relationship started out simply: Glenn Lewellen was a narcotics cop; Saul Rodriguez was a drug dealer he busted.
Soon, though, Rodriguez became a paid informant for Lewellen from 1996 to 2000. Then they became partners in crime, Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Reynolds told jurors Tuesday.
Rodriguez admits he led a drug-trafficking crew involved in at least 17 kidnappings, three robberies and three murders. Lewellen protected him, even having his now-deceased police partner fix a gun case for the drug dealer, Reynolds said.
“Glenn Lewellen not only planned and participated in the crew’s crimes – he also served as the crew’s guardian angel,” she said.
Reynolds delivered the government’s closing argument in the federal racketeering conspiracy trial of Lewellen and four other defendants. A fifth man is on trial on drug charges only.
“This is a crew that terrorized its victims,” Reynolds said. “… Kidnappings were the crew’s bread and butter.”
Lewellen is not accused of murders, but he participated in kidnappings and robberies, prosecutors said.
He allegedly robbed a drug dealer of $500,000 during a phony traffic stop in 1998 and split the money with Rodriguez. Then in 2003, Lewellen allegedly conducted surveillance for a kidnapping that netted a $700,000 ransom. The victim kept the duct tape and plastic handcuffs used in his abduction and Reynolds showed them to the jury Tuesday.
Lewellen also kidnapped a cartel-connected drug trafficker in a phony cop car tricked out with a siren and police lights, Reynolds said. That abduction led to a payoff of $1.5 million in cocaine, she said.
Lewellen retired from the police department in 2003 but continued to commit crimes with Rodriguez, Reynolds said. In 2004, Lewellen allegedly stole 70 kilograms of cocaine worth about $1 million from a drug trafficker who delivered the load in a tractor-trailer to a suburban warehouse Lewellen owned.
Lewellen and Rodriguez were in the real-estate business together, too, Reynolds said. Lewellen paid contractors with more than $213,000 in cash, proceeds of his illegal activities, she said.
Fifty-five witnesses have taken the stand, including Rodriguez and six other crew insiders who have cut deals with prosecutors in exchange for testifying against Lewellen and the other defendants. One witness was a bandleader held at gunpoint in his basement while his pregnant wife and five children were detained in their kitchen in Summit in 2007. “He could hear them screaming, and he was powerless to help them,” Reynolds said. Rodriguez allegedly thought his crew would find $1 million in a safe but got only $2,000. Lewellen wasn’t accused of that crime.