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Press Release

Five Members of a Talladega-based Heroin, Cocaine, and Methamphetamine Conspiracy Arrested

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM -- Federal and local law enforcement today arrested 5 of 12 defendants indicted in September as part of a conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine sourced from Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Clay Morris.

Today's arrests bring the number of people arrested to 10, as a result of the nearly three-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation into the Talladega-based drug-trafficking conspiracy.        

A 21-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges PATRICK NOLAN “YoYo” McSwain, 50, of Talladega, NOLBERTO ORTEGA, 54, of Chicago, Ill., EDGAR AGUILAR-TERRAZAS, 31, of Mexico, JOSE FERNANDO PEREZ LEYVA, 30, of Ind., AMANDA DENISE CONNELL, 33, KELVIN DENARD CHATAM, 36, AMECHE LASHUAN “Meche” CURRY, 50, LASHONDA RENEA WHITE, 40, MICHAEL TWYMON, 49, ROBERT SHURONE CHATMAN, 40, FLEMMINGS “Boobang” CHATMAN, 37, all of Talladega, and CHRISTOPHER LANE,  with conspiracy to distribute drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine between May 2017 and July 2019.  The indictment also charges four defendants with money laundering and six defendants with using a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime. 

“Today’s arrests are an important step in reducing the flow of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines, sourced from Mexico, into the Northern District of Alabama,” Town said.  “These dealers will go to extreme lengths to profit from this deadly poison with no regard to the pain and ruin they leave behind.  To the drug traffickers out there, you’ll have company soon.”

“This investigation and the subsequent indictments are a clear example of the drug pipeline running directly from Mexico to Alabama and specifically Talladega,” Morris said.  “The size, scope and magnitude of the McSWAIN Drug Trafficking Organization cannot be understated.  Literally, weekly shipments of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin were pouring into Talladega county.  Those arrested today could care less about the countless lives they tragically affected.  Their sole purpose of existence was selling poison and making money.  Fortunately, DEA and the Talladega Drug Task Force has found a new home for them…prison.” 

The indictment includes special findings of the grand jury regarding the amount of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine attributable to various defendants as part of the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

Ortega, McSwain, and Terrazas, are charged with conspiring to traffic five kilograms or more of cocaine.

Ortega, McSwain, Leyva, and Connell are charged with conspiring to traffic one kilogram or more of heroin.

Kelvin Chatman, Curry, Robert Chatman, and White are charged with conspiring to traffic five hundred grams or more of methamphetamine.

Ortega, Kelvin Chatman, and McSwain are charged with conspiring to traffic four hundred grams or more of fentanyl.

The leaders of the organization, McSwain and Ortega, were already in custody on federal charges related to a large seizure of cocaine and heroin on July 7th. DEA agents arrested McSwain after he met with a drug courier coordinated by Ortega. Agents found 16 kilograms of cocaine and one kilogram of heroin in McSwain’s vehicle. Agents then executed on search warrant on Mcswain’s home in Talladega, Alabama and discovered two kilograms of heroin, 383.8 grams of cocaine, 267.1 grams of marijuana, 884.4 grams of methamphetamine, two drug presses, multiple cellphones, scales, a handgun, and an AR-15 rifle.

After McSwain’s arrest DEA agents intercepted two drug shipments coordinated by Ortega on July 10th and July 12th.  On July 10th Ortega sent a drug courier from Mexico that was intercepted by DEA in Jefferson County with six kilograms of cocaine. On July 12th Ortega coordinated the shipment of a wooden crate intercepted by DEA in Jefferson County containing seven kilograms of heroin. Both shipments were intended for McSwain and distribution in Northern Alabama.

Through investigation, the DEA identified McSwain as the source of supply of heroin and methamphetamine to a drug trafficking organization led by Kelvin Denard “Cabo” Chatman in Talladega.  In October of 2018, DEA agents intercepted a shipping crate sent to north Alabama by Ortega.  DEA agents obtained a search warrant and found 69 kilograms of methamphetamine and two kilograms of fentanyl inside the wooden crate. The wooden crate was addressed to a car lot owned by Chatman.

The maximum penalty for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance is life in prison.  The minimum prison penalty for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime is five years in prison, which must be served after completion of any other sentenced related to the crime.  The maximum penalty for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison.   

The penalty for money laundering is a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  

Each count of using a telephone in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.

The DEA and other law enforcement agencies have seized a total of 81 kilograms of methamphetamine, 22 kilograms for cocaine, 11 kilograms of heroin, two kilograms of fentanyl, and 150 pounds of marijuana as a part of the investigation.

Defendants Curry and Twymon are currently fugitives from justice.

The DEA and Talladega County Drug Task Force investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorneys M. Blake Milner and Austin D. Shutt are prosecuting.

An indictment contains only charges.  Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.




Updated October 1, 2019

Drug Trafficking