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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 8, 2018

Three Defendants Plead Guilty on Eve of Drug Trafficking Trial

PHILADELPHIA -- United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that three participants in a drug trafficking ring operating primarily in the City of Chester, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking offenses.  Co-conspirators David Toney, James Townsend, and Cheron Jackson were scheduled to begin trial on Monday, November 5, 2018, before United States District Court Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg.

From approximately January through December 2015, James Townsend was a leader of a drug trafficking group in the City of Chester.  He supplied bulk quantities of cocaine to other lower level cocaine distributors in the area.  Townsend, in turn, was supplied by David Toney – a kilogram-level drug trafficker who primarily operated out of a residence he owned in West Philadelphia.

At the conclusion of a year-long investigation, law enforcement executed search warrants on the defendants’ residences in Philadelphia, Chester, and Delaware.  Law enforcement seized approximately two kilograms of cocaine, over $80,000 in cash, five firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and paraphernalia and equipment used for drug trafficking.  Seized paraphernalia included digital scales, new and unused packaging, and a cocaine press used to re-process kilograms of cocaine.

David Toney pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and possession of firearms and ammunition in furtherance of drug trafficking.  He awaits sentencing.

Townsend pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine; distribution of cocaine; possession with the intent to distribute, and aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine; and possession with the intent to distribute, and aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine within 1000 feet of the Ruth L. Bennett Homes, a public housing facility in Chester.  He is scheduled to be sentenced in February 2019.

Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine; possession with the intent to distribute, and aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine; and possession with the intent to distribute, and aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of cocaine within 1000 feet of the Ruth L. Bennett Homes, a public housing facility in Chester.  Jackson awaits sentencing.

“Those who supply and sell deadly drugs in the Eastern District will learn the hard way that they will be prosecuted,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain.  “These defendants now face substantial prison time for their crimes and will be held accountable for the misery they caused.  Thanks to the excellent work of our local and state law enforcement partners, we were able to detect and disrupt this deadly drug trafficking organization.”

“Every day, members of our Criminal Investigation Division stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to root out dangerous drug trafficking organizations like the one these criminals operated,” said Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland.  “We are pleased that our ongoing efforts continue to make our community safe.”

“Cooperation between local, state, and federal law enforcement partners was instrumental in bringing these dangerous criminals to justice and making southeastern Pennsylvania safer,” said Lieutenant Colonel Robert Evanchick, Acting Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner.  “I applaud all of the investigators who worked tirelessly for twelve months to build a strong case, including overwhelming evidence against the accused, which led to today's guilty pleas.”

“The Chester Police Department is grateful for the efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in securing this conviction and tying up the last loose end of this investigation,” said James Nolan, Chief of Police, City of Chester.  “Following the efforts of the Chester Police Narcotics Division, Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, and the Delaware County District Attorney, a plea agreement is an outcome we are pleased with.  This was a large step in offering relief to those citizens that suffer at the hands of illegal drug trafficking and the collateral damage caused by it.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, Pennsylvania State Police, City of Chester Police Department, and the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office–Criminal Investigation Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys A. Nicole Phillips and Yvonne O. Osirim.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated November 8, 2018