News and Press Releases

Drug Market Intervention Program Aims to Take Guntersville Community Back from Drug Dealers

December 14, 2011

BIRMINGHAM – The U.S. Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Marshall County District Attorney’s Office have targeted illegal drug dealers within a Guntersville community in an effort to stop the violence there and return the community to its law-abiding residents, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall said.

The prosecutors’ offices have worked with the Guntersville Police Department to bring a Drug Market Intervention program to a section of the Lakeview Community in Guntersville. Through that program, four people are being prosecuted on federal drug distribution charges. Six others, identified as low-level drug dealers, were called in to a special meeting Tuesday night and given the option to turn their lives around or also face prosecution. If they choose to curtail their drug activity, they will be provided access to services such as job training, housing, transportation and health care.

“The goal of the Drug Market Intervention program is to target an area overrun with drug crime and violence, take it back from the drug dealers and return it to the residents who want a peaceful community,” Vance said. “The DMI program has proven effective in cities around the nation through its approach of removing and prosecuting the worst of the worst offenders in a community, giving the lesser offenders incentives to give up criminal behavior and equipping community members to speak out against crime and reclaim their neighborhoods,” she said.

“I am pleased that the collaborative work of federal and state prosecutors along with local law enforcement has led to the arrest of multiple drug offenders,” said Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall. “These efforts, combined with an ongoing, systematic and active community response to the issue of illegal drug sales, will enhance the safety and quality of life in the Lakeview Community of Guntersville. I appreciate the support of U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance and the Department of Justice as we have planned and implemented this drug market initiative in our community,” Marshall said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to making communities safer and the DMI initiative in Marshall County is part of a focus across the district to reduce violent crime, Vance said. The office’s violent crime strategy is a three-legged stool: Prevention, Prosecution and Re-entry.

The prevention leg encourages law enforcement, social services, schools, and public health, community, faith-based and business organizations to collaborate and devise community-specific crime prevention programs, Vance said. The prosecution leg includes the DMI model of removing the worst offenders from a community, and re-entry involves providing programs and support, such as employment assistance, housing, education, substance abuse treatment, and family counseling, that will help people leaving prison increase their chances of returning successfully to society and not returning to crime, she said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office helped Marshall County obtain training for the DMI initiative through a Department of Justice supported program at Michigan State University, Vance said.

The four northeast Alabama people being prosecuted on federal drug charges as part of the Guntersville DMI initiative are: Lavondra “Hot Dog” Diamond, Contessa Tairre Marks Griffin, her husband, Corey Dion “Bump 40” Griffin, and Jessler White.

Diamond, 40, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. She was sentenced Dec. 9 to 7 ½ years in prison.

Contessa Griffin, 28, was indicted Nov. 30 for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Corey Griffin, 28, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 15. The conspiracy charge carries a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison.

White, 21, was indicted along with Corey Griffin for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 25.






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