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Press Release

Twenty-Seven Defendants Charged in Joint Federal and State Investigation of Drug Trafficking Organization

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Iowa

DES MOINES, IOWA -- Twenty-seven defendants are facing federal criminal charges as part of a joint federal and state investigation of a heroin and fentanyl drug trafficking organization. Most of these defendants were arrested on July 21, 2021; three individuals have yet to be arrested.

These defendants are charged with federal drug offenses in two criminal indictments:

  • Malek Shawn Holmes, age 21, of Des Moines
  • Pierre Fontain Black, age 30, of Des Moines
  • Deshawn Levell Greer, age 29, of Des Moines
  • Desmond Lamar Howard, age 30, of Des Moines
  • Carl Murphy, age 52, of Chicago, Illinois
  • Earl Otis Clay, III, age 29, of Des Moines
  • Gregory Izell Spight, age 42, of Des Moines
  • Michael Byrd, age 28, of Chicago, Illinois
  • Azim Abdul-Ahad, age 22, of Des Moines
  • Ronald Harris, age 35, of Des Moines
  • Derrick Fleming, age 27, of Chicago, Illinois
  • Patrick Staples, age 28, of Chicago, Illinois
  • Brandon Reed, age 28, of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tabaris Brown, age 22, of Des Moines
  • Dandre Cox, age 21, of Des Moines
  • Daeante Dewayne Neely, age 28, of Des Moines
  • Elijah Seymour, age 33, of Des Moines
  • Felicia Olson, age 29, of Des Moines
  • Sarah Hume, age 39, of Des Moines
  • Andrew Price, age 29, of Des Moines
  • Jason Beaman, age 46, of Knoxville
  • Jamisha Canada, age 44, of Des Moines
  • Tonie Canada, age 39, of Des Moines
  • Rickey’a Dee Jackson, age 22, of Des Moines
  • Devante Jave Taylor, age 26, of Des Moines
  • Tyler Robert Wood, age 30, of Des Moines
  • Zakar Jeffrey, age 28, of Des Moines

All defendants arrested on July 21 have or will soon appear in federal court on the charges.

The charges stem from a months’ long investigation into heroin and fentanyl distribution within the Des Moines area. The charges carry maximum penalties of up to life imprisonment, with a ten- year mandatory minimum prison term as to Malek Holmes, and five-year mandatory minimum prison terms as to Pierre Black, Deshawn Greer, Carl Murphy, Earl Clay, III, Gregory Spight, Michael Byrd, Azim Abdul-Ahad, Ronald Harris, Derrick Fleming, Patrick Staples, Brandon Reed, Tabaris Brown, Daeante Neely, Felicia Olson, Andrew Price, Jason Beaman, Jamisha Canada, and Tonie Canada. The public is reminded that charges contain only accusations and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The charges were announced by Richard D. Westphal, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. Investigating and assisting agencies include: the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force; Central Iowa Gang Task Force; Des Moines Police Department; Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement; Polk County Sheriff’s Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Iowa State Patrol; Iowa Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center; Iowa State Patrol SWAT; United States Marshals Service; Central Iowa Drug Task Force; Drug Enforcement Agency; Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force East; Homeland Security Investigations; Altoona Police Department; Story County Sheriff’s Office; Ames Police Department; Norwalk Police Department; West Des Moines Police Department; Ankeny Police Department; METRO Star; SERT; Iowa 5th Judicial District; Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago; Federal Bureau of Investigation Kansas City; Federal Bureau of Investigation Minneapolis; Federal Bureau of Investigation Omaha; and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF).

OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.


Rachel J. Scherle

Updated July 23, 2021

Drug Trafficking