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Last of fugitive fez-wearing Detroit drug dealers captured

By Mary Wisniewski

(Reuters) - Federal agents have nabbed the last of three fez-wearing Detroit-area drug dealers who escaped last month before a jury returned guilty verdicts against them, officials said on Thursday.

Earnest Lee Proge, Jr., 38, was found on Wednesday evening hiding in a St. Louis basement, according to Robert C. Watson, spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service. Proge, who was carrying $7,000 in cash, resisted arrest and officials used a Taser electronic device to subdue him.

Earlier this month, officials had caught Proge's co-defendants - Carlos Powell and his brother Eric Powell - in Atlanta and St. Louis, respectively.

The three men face possible life in prison for operating what authorities call one of the largest drug rings in Detroit-area history.

All three had been free on bond and had failed to come to federal court in Detroit for the reading of guilty verdicts against them on felony drug charges on May 12. They are awaiting extradition back to Detroit, Watson said.

The case resulted in the seizure of more than $21 million in cash, 66 pounds (30 kg) of heroin, 26 pounds (12 kg) of cocaine and about 1,000 pounds (450 kg) of marijuana.

The three men wore fezzes - tasseled, cylindrical hats - in court. The men had said they wore the fezzes as part of their membership in the Moorish Science Temple of America, according to the Detroit News.

A fourth defendant, former state Representative Kenneth Daniels, had appeared in court for the verdict and was convicted of a related financial crime.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Eric Beech)

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