By Patsy R. Brumfield/Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – A dozen people face up to life in prison if convicted on charges they were part of a cocaine trafficking scheme in north Mississippi.
A federal indictment claims their alleged illegal activity occurred in Union and Monroe counties from Aug. 1, 2010, until Dec. 13, 2011.
Charged in the indictment are Clifton Williams Jr., 55, of Aberdeen, Michael Lecedric “Cedric” Cotton, 29, of Decatur, Jose Juan Rubio, 45, of Laredo, Texas, Michael Graham, 33, of Decatur, Kenyata Russell, 34, of Decatur, Walter O’Neal “Big Moot” Hampton, 33, of Okolona, Thaddeus Heard, 32, of Okolona, Tasha Taylor, 37, of Okolona, Khomia Jones, 31, of Okolona, Cedric Johnson, 40, of Tupelo, and two defendants listed without ages or places of residence, Jarquette Trimble and Constean Ford.
Earlier federal court documents reveal that several of these defendants showed up on the public radar through complaints filed by agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics out of Oxford.
All these defendants are accused of being part of an unlawful conspiracy – with previously indicted James Edward Evans III, 29, of Okolona – to possess large amounts of cocaine and to establish a distribution network across the region.
“The main task of this drug trafficking network was to acquire and distribute a continuous supply of cocaine to customers of the network,” the indictment states.
The government claims co-conspirators communicated with other traffickers in Texas and Mississippi, “among other places,”’ to buy and ship large amounts of cocaine into north Mississippi.
They allegedly packaged and stored it in “stash houses” and, in some instances, used threat of physical force to keep the enterprise going.
Russell, Cotton, Williams and Rubio also are accused of working with each other to acquire the cocaine for distribution.
If found guilty, all will be subject to forfeiting anything they used or gained from the illegal enterprise.
On the conspiracy charge, the 12 face up to life in prison and $10 million in fines each. If any were previously convicted of a drug felony, the fine goes up to $20 million. With two or more prior drug felonies, life in prison is mandatory.
The penalties are the same on the attempt-to-obtain charge.
Arrest warrants were issued with the Dec. 14 indictment.
Freed were Taylor on $5,000 bond and Heard on $20,000 bond.
Last July, Evans was indicted on three counts of possession of cocaine and a firearm, as well as possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
He pleaded guilty Nov. 30 to two counts, but U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper recently agreed to vacate the government’s notice to increase the penalty on the possession charge because of his prior conviction., which was part of his plea deal.
Evans will not be sentenced until after a report is prepared for Pepper to use in determining his punishment.