By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Arrests continue in what federal agents describe as a cocaine distribution ring in Northeast Mississippi.
This week, Joe Walker, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent assigned to Oxford, said in a sworn statement to the U.S. District Court that Walter Hampton, Tasha Taylor and Thaddeus Heard of Monroe County were part of a scheme to import cocaine from Texas and sell it.
His Dec. 7 affidavit, which is similar to others presented to federal grand juries, claims they and others are part of a network to sell cocaine.
Thursday, the trio appeared for an initial hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Sanders. A detention hearing is set for Dec. 13.
Meanwhile, Taylor posted $5,000 bond and a federal public defender was appointed for Hampton.
Walker’s statement claims that 13 kilograms of cocaine – about 28.6 pounds – was seized from James Evans in Okolona last July. At that point, Evans cooperated with the government, Walker said, and told investigators that Hampton was his best customer.
Evans also allegedly identified his source and a drug courier, and law enforcement made purchases of cocaine based on this information.
Walker’s affidavit says that delivery of 20 kilograms was arranged from a Texas source through Arkansas last November with the destination Monroe County.
On Nov. 27, Walker states that law enforcement witnessed a meeting near Marion, Ark. They followed a suspect and the tractor trailer rig he allegedly met.
Soon after, Cedric Cotton was arrested in Union County just off Highway 78. He was alleged to be in possession of about 20 kilograms of cocaine. The truck driver, Jose Juan Rubio, was arrested in Missouri.
After Cotton’s arrest, Clifton Williams was arrested in Monroe County. Walker claims law enforcement found Williams to have cocaine, firearms and more than $100,000.
Hampton is accused of being the local drug distributor with Heard accused of selling it for him, and Taylor of depositing the proceeds into the bank for Hampton.
While Walker’s criminal complaint accuses them of violating federal drug laws, they have not yet been indicted.
Evans pleaded guilty to two counts Nov. 30 from a July 28 indictment, but the same day U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper vacated the plea on the government’s motion to establish his prior criminal record.
Two days before, Williams, Cotton and Rubio were arrested on a drug trafficking complaint filed by another DEA agent. Their prosecution is pending.