Twenty-One People Arrested In Huntsville-based Drug-Trafficking Conspiracy
NOTE: Release has been updated since press conference. There is also one correction included – Christopher David "Chris Wheeler" Sanders is from Decatur and Christopher Ike "Coota" Okafor is from Huntsville. Please note the motion to dismiss that is attached. Defendant Trevor Marchel Young is to be dismissed from the indictment. Please see links:
HUNTSVILLE – Federal agents and members of a Madison and Morgan County drug task force today arrested 21 people charged as members of a drug-trafficking conspiracy operating out of Huntsville since at least 2010, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr. and Madison-Morgan County High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area Task Force Commander, Sgt. Dewayne McCarver.
The defendants are part of overlapping drug rings, one distributing powder and crack cocaine and the other, marijuana, in Madison County, according to a 34-count indictment unsealed following today's arrests. Twenty of the defendants were arrested in North Alabama and one defendant turned himself in in Atlanta. Authorities continue to pursue a 22nd defendant, known as "Renay."
Brothers CORTEZ DEAUNDRA "Tez" CARR, 33, and TYRIS TERVILLE "Black" CARR, 38, both of Huntsville, are charged in the cocaine and the marijuana conspiracies. The multi-agency investigation, begun early in 2010, identifies Cortez Carr as the leader of the illegal drug distribution rings.
"This investigation has successfully taken down a major cocaine- and marijuana-trafficking organization operating in Northern Alabama," Vance said. "This is a sterling example of how federal, state and local law enforcement, working together, are able to successfully dismantle narcotics smuggling organizations and reduce the availability of illegal drugs on the streets," Vance said.
"Today's arrests dismantle a narcotics operation that spread from Atlanta to Birmingham, as well as from Huntsville and Decatur to Gadsden," Schwein said. "This type of investigation and enforcement activity between the agencies involved shows when numerous agencies work together, as they did in this case, it has a significant impact and can help to restore an entire neighborhood. The law abiding citizens who live in the areas targeted in this morning's investigations have their neighborhood back."
"This is a perfect example of the impact that can be made when agencies work together," McCarver said. "This case will have a lasting positive impact on the cities of Huntsville, Madison and Decatur, by removing a major drug-trafficking operation from this area. I am proud to have worked with all of the agencies involved."
Cortez Carr is charged, individually, with separate counts of possessing with intent to distribute powder cocaine and crack cocaine, and with possessing a firearm – a Bryco Arms 9mm pistol and a FEG .45-caliber pistol – in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, all on March 15, 2010. Cortez Carr also is charged, individually, with six counts of distributing more than 28 grams of crack cocaine and one count of distributing more than 280 grams of crack on various dates between August 2012 and December 2012.
Cortez Carr is charged, along with his brother, Tyris Carr, and their cousin, LACARL CARR, 37, of Huntsville, with possessing with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine in Madison County on Jan. 14. LaCarl Carr faces one count of possessing a firearm – a derringer .38-caliber – in furtherance of cocaine trafficking on that date.
Along with various other defendants in the conspiracy, Cortez Carr is charged with three counts of using a telephone, in November 2012 and December 2012, to further the marijuana conspiracy. He faces 13 counts, with various other defendants, of using a telephone between December 2012 and January 2013, to further the cocaine conspiracy.
Of the 22 defendants charged in the April 24 indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Birmingham, 20 are from Huntsville. Along with the Carrs they are: brothers TOMMY "Roland" CHILDS III, 51, and ERIC DEWAYNE "Twin" or "Look-a-like" CHILDS, 42; CHRISTOPHER IKE "Coota" OKAFOR, 29; COREY TODD "Black Boy" THOMPSON, 25; GREGORY LAVAR "Greedy G" HAMPTON, 35; MICHAEL WAYNE BURTON, 45; TRAVIS SANITAL WASHINGTON, 31; DEONTA LAJUAN TURNER, 30; TERRENCE LAVELLE "Wolf" MELTON, 36; JOHN EARNEST MOORE JR. 27; CHARLES COLVIN COPELAND, 44; CORNELIUS ANTONIO CARTER, 30; FREDERICK LEE MAPLES, 46; MONICA CHAMPALER TONEY, 35; DARRAL DEMETRIAS WALTER, 38; KEENAN JERMAINE SHEPHARD, 33; and an unidentified defendant, referred to in the indictment as FNU "Renay" LNU, age unavailable.
The two defendants from outside Huntsville are: QUINCY TYWY ELLINGTON, 36, of Atlanta, and CHRISTOPHER DAVID "Chris Wheeler" SANDERS, 33; of Decatur.
The three Carrs, Eric and Tommy Childs, Sanders, Thompson, Hampton, Burton, Washington, Ellington, Turner, Melton, Moore, Copeland, Carter, Young, Maples, Toney and Walter are charged in Count One of the indictment with the conspiracy to possess and distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine on March 15, 2010.
Cortez and Tyris Carr, Melton, Shephard, Okafor and Renay are charged in Count Two with the conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana.
Okafor, individually, is charged with possessing with intent to distribute marijuana, and with possessing a firearm – a Beretta .22 LR pistol – in the furtherance of the drug-trafficking crime, on Feb. 7. He also is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Conspiring to possess and distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $4 million fine. Conspiracy to possess and distribute marijuana carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Possessing with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine carries a minimum mandatory prison sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime carries a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed for the crime.
The FBI, Madison-Morgan County HIDTA Task Force, Huntsville, Madison and Decatur police departments, Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Alabama Department of Public Safety, federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and Madison County and Morgan County sheriff's departments and district attorneys' offices investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terence O'Rourke is prosecuting the case.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges. Defendants are presumed innocent and it is the government's obligation to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.