Thirteen Defendants Indicted in Connection with Monmouth County Drug Trafficking Conspiracy; Two Defendants Charged with Unlawfully Possessing Firearms
TRENTON, N.J. – Thirteen defendants have been indicted for their roles as members, associates, and suppliers of a drug-trafficking conspiracy that distributed cocaine and crack cocaine in and around Monmouth County, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Damion Helmes, Dawn Stephens, Shantay Walker, Keith Logan, Shamar Dudley, Tonya Underwood, Elizabeth Conover, Curtis Jenkins, Ralph Lee, and Eric Yarbrough were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine. Additionally, Helmes, Stephens, Walker, Logan, Dudley, Underwood, Conover, Jenkins, Lee, Yarbrough, Derrick Hayes, Dequan Copeland, and Cassius Williams were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. Helmes was also charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, and with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Hayes was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between April 2019 and August 2019, the defendants and others engaged in a narcotics conspiracy that operated primarily in municipalities throughout Monmouth County – including Cliffwood, Keansburg, Matawan, Keyport, Red Bank, Long Branch, Neptune, and Asbury Park, as well as Brick Township in Ocean County – and which sought to profit from the distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine. Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement officers learned that defendant Helmes obtained regular supplies of cocaine from defendants Hayes and Copeland. Helmes then re-distributed that cocaine, portions of which he converted into crack cocaine, for profit, to other conspirators, distributors, sub-dealers, and end users throughout Monmouth County. During the wiretap portion of the investigation, law enforcement intercepted numerous communications by and between the conspirators regarding such issues as cocaine quality and availability, pricing, packaging, quantity, and customer satisfaction.
The defendants were originally charged by complaint on Aug. 22, 2019. Dudley was previously charged by indictment.
The count of conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a ten-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $10 million. The count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, a five-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $5 million. The count charging Helmes with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The count charging Helmes with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 5 years and a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and must be served consecutive to the sentence imposed on the drug trafficking crime. The felon in possession counts against Helmes and Hayes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Each firearms count also carries a maximum fine equal to the greatest of $250,000, twice the gross amount of pecuniary gain that any persons derived from the offense, or twice the gross amount of any pecuniary loss sustained by any victim of the offense.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited Special Agents and Task Force Officers of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, Jersey Shore Gang and Criminal Organization Task Force (including representatives from the Bradley Beach, Brick, Howell, Toms River, Union Beach and Marlboro police departments, and the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office) under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie; the Red Bank Police Department, under the direction of Chief Darren McConnell; the Keansburg Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Pigott; the Middletown Police Department, under the direction of Chief Craig Weber; the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni; the Highlands Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert Burton; the Holmdel Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Mioduszewski; and the Long Branch Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jason Roebuck, with the investigation leading to today’s charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
The charges and allegations contained in the superseding indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.