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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Mississippi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 9, 2018

Multiple Defendants Sentenced for Violent Crimes and Drug Trafficking

OXFORD – A Clarksdale man, the final defendant in a multi-defendant conspiracy, has been sentenced to 400 months in federal prison resulting from his role in a murder and heroin distribution conspiracy in the Northern District of Mississippi.  Derrick Jones was sentenced for his crimes in United States District Court Thursday afternoon.

Multiple fatal opioid overdoses and hospitalizations in the Mississippi Delta spurred an investigation between the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and the United States Attorney’s Office. This investigation unveiled a large heroin and cocaine trafficking organization, operating predominately in Coahoma County, Mississippi. This joint investigation involved numerous search warrants, arrests, and convictions. In all, twelve defendants were sentenced in federal court for their roles in this drug trafficking conspiracy.

William C. Lamar, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, Joseph Frank, Supervisory Special Agent for the Oxford Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Warner Benson, Resident Agent in Charge of the Oxford Office of the DEA, Terry Spillers, Captain of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Oxford District Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation made the announcement.

“Under the leadership of Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, our mission is to make our neighborhoods safe. With the dismantling of this organization, Clarksdale, Mississippi, is safer.  Pursuant to Project Safe Neighborhood, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, and other programs, we, with our state and local partners, will continue to pursue dangerous organizations and individuals to the fullest extent in every corner of our district,” said U.S. Attorney William C. Lamar.

Below, are the twelve co-conspirator’s charges and sentences, made possible by the Project Safe Neighborhood Initiative and OCDETF investigation: 

  • Derrick Jones pleaded guilty in July of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and one count of murder.  U.S. District Judge Debra M. Brown sentenced Jones to a total of 400 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Steven Haynes pleaded guilty in June of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Judge Brown ordered Haynes to serve a total of 240 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Heroin supplier, Errick Hackler, of Chicago, Illinois, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Judge Brown ordered Hackler to serve a total of 67 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Craig Haynes of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in June of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams. Judge Brown ordered Haynes to serve 85 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Mark Connor of Clarksdale, Mississippi pleaded guilty to accessory to murder, after the fact, during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. In November of 2016, U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers, Jr. sentenced Connor to 70 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
  • Cordarell Johnson of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams. Judge Brown ordered Johnson to serve 75 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Octavious Conner of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams. Judge Brown ordered Conner to serve 35 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Antonio Lewis of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin in excess of 100 grams. Judge Brown ordered Lewis to serve 84 months in custody, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
  • Frank Williams of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in April of 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and one count of possession of a firearm as a felon. Judge Brown ordered Williams to serve a total of 67 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
  • Reginald Murray of Clarksdale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in January of 2016 to two counts of distribution of heroin. Judge Brown ordered Murray to serve 37 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release
  • Sidney Avant, Jr. pleaded guilty in July 2017 to corruptly obstructing an investigation by the DEA, ATF and Federal Grand Jury. Judge Brown ordered Avant to serve 18 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
  • Sidney Avant III pleaded guilty in July 2017 to corruptly obstructing an investigation by the DEA, ATF and Federal Grand Jury. Judge Brown ordered Avant to serve 14 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

These charges were the result of an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that provides supplemental funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations pursuant to the Project Safe Neighborhood anti-violent crime initiative.  Several agencies were crucial to this investigation, including the DEA, ATF, the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI Crime Laboratory, the Clarksdale Police Department, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Mississippi National Guard Counter-Drug Unit, Quitman County, Mississippi Sheriff’s Department, and the Coahoma County Mississippi Sheriff’s Office.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Leary, Clyde McGee, Jamiel Wiggins and Sam Wright, with the assistance of Intelligence Specialist, Paul Rowlett.

 

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Updated March 12, 2018