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Press Release

FBI Arrests Defendants Charged with Trafficking Heroin and Other Drugs in Jefferson County

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

FBI agents today arrested five of six Jefferson County, Alabama, men indicted by a federal grand jury in November on charges they operated an illegal organization trafficking heroin, cocaine, prescription painkillers and other drugs in the western part of the county.  The sixth defendant already was in custody in Jefferson County on state charges related to the drug-trafficking organization.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Haley III, Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale, Hueytown Police Chief Chuck Hagler and Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division announced today's arrests.

The November indictment charges Ladaryl Keith "Eric" Spriggs, 30, Michael "Mike" Watson Jr., 28, Boris Bernard "Buck" Edwards, 45, and Marquis Rashad "Bobo" Abernathy, 23, all of Brighton, Alabama, as well as Damien Jamaar "Two for 15" Scott, 29, of Bessemer, Alabama, and Antione Rashun "Twan" Bell, 29, of Birmingham, Alabama, with conspiring to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, suboxone and alprazolam between August 2013 and Nov. 17, 2014.

Arrested today were Spriggs, Watson, Abernathy, Edwards and Bell.  Scott was already in custody.

"The indictment and arrests of these defendants reflects my office's commitment to work with law enforcement to battle the country's epidemic problem of heroin and opioid painkiller abuse on the supply side," said U.S. Attorney Vance.  "There have been at least 123 heroin overdose deaths in Jefferson County, alone, in 2014.  As a community, we must wage battle on many fronts, including seeking more education and awareness about opiate abuse and more addiction treatment options."

“This investigation shows the FBI’s resolve to target organizations that are bringing heroin and other dangerous drugs into the Birmingham area," said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Haley.  "Today, along with our law enforcement partners, we were able to remove dangerous people from the streets and take another step toward making our community safer.”

"The drug trade is a deadly business and none more deadly than heroin," said Sheriff Hale.  "This investigation and subsequent number of arrests will certainly have a positive impact in our area, as these are major players in this deadly game.  Lives will be saved because of it.  I want to thank United States Attorney Joyce Vance and her team, along with all of the federal and local enforcement partners for their commitment to this initiative.  We are a powerful force working together and we are committed to continuing this fight.”

"The heroin problem is a metro-wide epidemic that needs a cooperative response from law enforcement, on all levels, across the area," said Police Chief Hagler.  "The leadership shown by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on this issue has been both welcomed and effective.  I’m sure I speak for all my fellow police chiefs when I say we appreciate Joyce Vance’s efforts in helping to spearhead a multi-agency law enforcement strategy to deal with this threat to all our communities."

According to the indictment, Spriggs, Watson and Abernathy are charged with trafficking more than 1,000 grams of heroin as part of the conspiracy, and Scott's, Bell's and Edwards' participation in the conspiracy involved more than 100 grams of heroin.

Count 2 of the indictment charges Spriggs and Watson with possessing and intending to distribute heroin and oxycodone from a Fairfield, Alabama, house located within 1,000 feet of a public school, Fairfield High School, on July 17.

Count 3 charges Spriggs, Scott and Watson with possessing and intending to distribute heroin on August 8.

The remaining 11 counts variously charge all defendants, except Scott, with using a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.

The indictment seeks a forfeiture judgment of at least $1 million from the defendants as proceeds of illegal activity.

The maximum penalty for conspiracy to distribute drugs illegally is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.  Conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 grams of heroin carries a penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine, and conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin carries a penalty of five to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.

The maximum penalty for possessing with intent to distribute heroin or oxycodone is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.  The maximum penalty doubles for distribution within 1,000 feet of a school.

The maximum penalty for using a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime is four years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The FBI's Safe Streets Task Force investigated the case, in conjunction with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Hueytown Police and IRS-CID. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory R. Dimler is prosecuting the case.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges.  Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated December 11, 2017

Drug Trafficking