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Final defendant sentenced in Delta drug trafficking operation

An investigation was launched after multiple fatal opioid overdoses and hospitalizations in the Mississippi Delta. The 12th defendant in the case has now been sentenced for his role in the murder and heroin distribution conspiracy.

Derrick Jones, of Clarksdale, was sentenced to over 33 years in prison (400 months). This investigation unveiled a large heroin and cocaine trafficking organization, operating predominantly in Coahoma County, Mississippi.

The investigation was a joint effort between the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and the United States Attorney’s Office.

After Jones’ sentencing, U.S. Attorney William C. Lamar said that these agencies will continue to make Mississippi safer by getting drug dealers off of the streets.

“Under the leadership of Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, our mission is to make our neighborhoods safe. With the dismantling of this organization, Clarksdale, Mississippi, is safer. Pursuant to Project Safe Neighborhood, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, and other programs, we, with our state and local partners, will continue to pursue dangerous organizations and individuals to the fullest extent in every corner of our district,” Lamar said.

Below, are the twelve co-conspirator’s charges and sentences:

  •  Derrick Jones pleaded guilty in July of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and one count of murder. U.S. District Judge Debra M. Brown sentenced Jones to a total of 400 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Steven Haynes pleaded guilty in June of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Judge Brown ordered Haynes to serve a total of 240 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Heroin supplier, Errick Hackler, of Chicago, Illinois, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Judge Brown ordered Hackler to serve a total of 67 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Craig Haynes of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in June of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams. Judge Brown ordered Haynes to serve 85 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Mark Connor of Clarksdale, Mississippi pleaded guilty to accessory to murder, after the fact, during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. In November of 2016, U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers, Jr. sentenced Connor to 70 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
  • Cordarell Johnson of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams. Judge Brown ordered Johnson to serve 75 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Octavious Conner of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams. Judge Brown ordered Conner to serve 35 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Antonio Lewis of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams. Judge Brown ordered Lewis to serve 84 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Frank Williams of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and one count of possession of a firearm as a felon. Judge Brown ordered Williams to serve a total of 67 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
  • Reginald Murray of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in January of 2016 to two counts of distribution of heroin. Judge Brown ordered Murray to serve 37 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
  • Sidney Avant, Jr. pleaded guilty in July 2017 to corruptly obstructing an investigation by the DEA, ATF and Federal Grand Jury. Judge Brown ordered Avant to serve 18 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
  • Sidney Avant III pleaded guilty in July 2017 to corruptly obstructing an investigation by the DEA, ATF and Federal Grand Jury. Judge Brown ordered Avant to serve 14 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

These charges were the result of an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that provides supplemental funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations pursuant to the Project Safe Neighborhood anti-violent crime initiative.

According to a news release, several agencies were crucial to this investigation, including the DEA, ATF, the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI Crime Laboratory, the Clarksdale Police Department, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Mississippi National Guard Counter-Drug Unit, Quitman County, Mississippi Sheriff’s Department, and the Coahoma County Mississippi Sheriff’s Office.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Leary, Clyde McGee, Jamiel Wiggins and Sam Wright, with the assistance of Intelligence Specialist, Paul Rowlett

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