Federal case involves 22 defendants

ATLANTA -- Court papers filed Thursday show that federal drug conspiracy charges against Baltimore Ravens star running back Jamal Lewis are tied to a two-year-old cocaine and heroin ring that involved some 22 defendants.

In the papers filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, prosecutors said charges against Lewis and a childhood friend,
Angelo Jackson, are part of the same connected series of acts or
transactions involved in the charges against some of the
co-conspirators in a January 2002 drug indictment.

According to the papers, four men charged in the 2002 case are unindicted
co-conspirators in the Lewis case. The papers also say that prosecutors dismissed similar charges against Jackson three years
ago because they did not want to jeopardize the 2002 case and their ongoing investigation that involves Lewis.

Prosecutors refused to elaborate, and a spokesman did not return calls by The Associated Press seeking comment.

Lewis pleaded not guilty February 25 to federal drug charges that he tried to help a childhood friend buy cocaine in the summer of 2000.

"To disclose any additional details regarding the connection between the cases
would require the United States to disclose portions of its trial strategy in this case," a prosecutor wrote in the court papers.

According to court documents from the 2002 case, some of the 22
defendants were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute
as much as 50 kilograms of cocaine and 100 grams of heroin. Most of the
defendants were convicted and sentenced. Court papers say
prosecutors in the case also sought to seize a car, several homes
and nearly $1.3 million in cash used in the crimes.

Many records in the 2002 case remain sealed. Some documents in the Lewis and Jackson case also are sealed.

Lewis, 24, and Jackson, 26, who both grew up in the same area of
Atlanta, are charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to
distribute five kilograms of cocaine and using a cell phone in
violation of federal law. Jackson is additionally charged with
attempted cocaine possession.