As shock waves roared through the hip-hop community in the wake of the arrests of DJ Drama (Tyree Simmons), DJ Don Cannon (Donald Cannon) and 17 associates in Atlanta on Tuesday, more facts came to light regarding the nature and extent of the raid on Drama’s offices and reactions to it throughout the community. At press time, the pair, who were arrested on felony charges stemming from a magistrate’s warrant under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, were in Fulton County Superior Court for a bail hearing, which will determine their bond . More than 50,000 mixtapes were seized in the raid. The raid was initiated by the Sheriff’s Joint Vice Task Force for Clayton County, Georgia, which is based in the city of Morrow, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Morrow Police Chief Jeff Baker told MTV News that the operation stemmed from a three-to-four week investigation that involved two undercover agents. They notified the RIAA’s anti-piracy division – both the regional and national offices – and worked with the Fulton County Sheriff on Tuesday’s raid. The investigation began after a city police officer saw “illegal material” being sold in a record store in Morrow in violation of Georgia state law.
The RIAA has targeted 12 cities as “hot spots” for pirated material, including Atlanta, according to a company press release. Brad Buckles, executive vice president of the RIAA’s Anti-Piracy Division in Washington, D.C., said the case was developed in Atlanta. For more than a year, police have been investigating the manufacture and distribution of pirated material in the city and “during that time, we’ve been working with police and picking up pirated product, going back and forth with local law enforcement to figure out where it’s coming from,” Buckles said. “[Tuesday’s raid] was just one of the many series of raids that have occurred.” Many retail outlets have been raided for selling mixtapes in recent years – the RIAA press release cited four in the Atlanta area in 2005, and claimed nearly 1 million pirated CDs were seized in the city that year – but Tuesday’s raid was the first involving a figure of DJ Drama’s stature. Buckles was vague when asked about the product that had been seized, saying that he only knew what he had read in the report: that “the product violated state law” and that “I’m given to understand that the CDs also contained a variety of works and different artists” that weren’t licensed or cleared, and were being sold illegally. When asked if Tuesday’s raid was part of a larger series of raids targeting mixtapes, Buckles said, “We don’t consider this being against mixtapes as some sort of class of product. We enforce our rights civilly or work with police against those who violate state law. Whether it’s a mixtape or a compilation or whatever it’s called, it doesn’t really matter: If it’s a product that’s violating the law, it becomes a target.”
For more on the mixtape business, check out MTV News’ 2003 report: “Mixtapes: The Other Music Industry.”