FIVE ARRESTED IN RAID ON THA ROW RECORDS

And drugs and murder charges follow...

Further details have emerged about the raid on THA ROW RECORDS offices in BEVERLY HILLS in the early hours of yesterday morning (November 14).

mtv.com reports that five associates of the label have been arrested, and three of them charged with conspiracy to commit murder. A total of 16 raids took place in California and Las Vegas, including homes owned or previously owned by label founder Marion ‘Suge’ Knight.

The charges stem from investigations into the gang-related slaying in April of Tha Row employee Alton McDonald and the alleged revenge slaying in June of Eric Daniels.

McDonald, who was in Las Vegas with Knight when rapper Tupac Shakur was killed, was gunned down at a gas station in Compton.

Officials said the arrests were not tied to the murders of Shakur and Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace, insisting it was “strictly a gang-related murder investigation”.

Knight is not a suspect in the investigations.

The men charged with conspiracy to commit murder are Michael Leroy Payne (25), Kordell Dupree Knox (37) and Theodore Peter Kelly (29), who have all been booked without bail.

Knox is a former sheriff’s deputy who was fired on November 1 because of his suspected involvement in an assault with a deadly weapon.

Another man, Daryl Small, 32, who was also arrested at Tha Row’s offices, was charged with marijuana possession, while another man, 35-year-old Deshone Lacey, was charged with cultivation of marijuana. Bail for the marijuana charges was set at $10,000.

Special weapons’ teams, homicide investigators and police aided the sheriff’s departments in each of the cities. About 60 officers took part in the raid of Tha Row, which led to roads being shut off, and attracted a media blitz. Computers and dozens of boxes were removed, and no weapons were seized.

Knight’s lawyer, Arthur Barens, called the raids “totally inappropriate”. He said: “We are disappointed that law enforcement has proceeded in such a heavy-handed nature, for instance by breaking in the doors of our office building, which was totally unnecessary. They simply could have waited until the office opened at 8 o’clock instead of breaking in at 6 o’clock and causing thousands of dollars of property damage to the building.

“They went to Suge’s house, his wife is full-term pregnant and delivering a child in ten days. They handcuffed his wife, made her wait outdoors at 6:30 in the morning in the cold. They found nothing, either in the office building or at the house.”

Knight was released from prison in August 2001 after serving five years for violating probation by fighting at a Las Vegas hotel. The September 1996 scuffle in a casino occurred just hours before Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting as he rode in Knight’s car.