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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

Monday, November 28, 2016

Four more defendants plead guilty in multistate drug conspiracy

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Four additional defendants who participated in a multistate drug ring pleaded guilty today to various federal drug charges, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto.  Atari Seantay Brown, 39, entered his guilty plea to distribution of heroin.  Sean Lee Braggs, 26, entered his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute heroin.  Deandra Sheen Jones, 41, entered her guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute heroin and crack.  Samuel E. Nelson, III, 37, entered his guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute heroin.

From the summer of 2014 to May 2016, Brown helped lead a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of drugs in the Huntington area, including heroin and crack.  During the conspiracy, Brown arranged for the transportation of large quantities heroin and cocaine from Michigan to the Huntington area.  Agents were able to make numerous controlled purchases of heroin from Brown and others during the investigation.  Brown admitted at his hearing that, on September 2, 2016, a confidential informant working at the direction of the Drug Enforcement Administration contacted him to arrange for the purchase of heroin.  Brown met with the informant at an apartment located at 333 14th Street in Huntington which the group used to store and distribute drugs.  Inside the apartment, Brown sold approximately 10 grams of heroin to the informant in exchange for $1,200.  Brown also admitted that he possessed firearms during the conspiracy, that he maintained the 14th Street apartment to distribute drugs, and that he served as a leader of the conspiracy.

Braggs admitted that he assisted Brown and others by conducting distributions of heroin in the Huntington area, by transporting drugs from Michigan to Huntington, and by transporting money from Huntington to Michigan.  On April 18, 2016, Braggs was traveling from Huntington to Michigan when his vehicle broke down in Ohio.  Brown arranged for a tow truck to tow the vehicle to Michigan.  Agents surveilling Brown and Braggs contacted members of the Ohio Highway Patrol and a trooper subsequently conducted a traffic stop of the tow truck in northern Ohio.  Agents discovered that Braggs’ vehicle contained a hidden compartment behind the rear seat which could be accessed through electronic controls.  Agents discovered $181,490 in cash concealed in the hidden compartment which Braggs admitted constituted proceeds from drug sales in the Huntington area.   

Jones admitted that she assisted Brown by transporting cocaine from Michigan concealed in a rental vehicle.  Jones admitted that she also transported cash from Huntington to Michigan and helped Brown acquire additional quantities of heroin in Michigan.  On March 26, 2016, Jones arranged for Brown to receive approximately 100 grams of heroin which Brown distributed to Nelson.  On April 30, 2016, Jones transported approximately 1 kilogram of cocaine to Huntington at Brown’s direction.  The cocaine was concealed in the spare tire of a rental vehicle Jones was driving and Jones was aware Brown intended to convert the cocaine to crack for distribution.     

Nelson admitted that he acquired large quantities of heroin from Brown which Nelson transported to the Louisville, Kentucky area for distribution.  On April 18, 2016, Nelson traveled from Louisville to acquire heroin from Brown at the 14th Street apartment.  Agents observed Nelson meet with Brown and a trooper with the West Virginia State Police subsequently conducted a traffic stop of Nelson’s vehicle as he traveled on 16th Street Road toward Interstate 64 to return to Louisville.  Agents searched Nelson’s vehicle and discovered approximately 130 grams of heroin concealed in the dashboard of the vehicle. 

On May 18, 2016, after a federal grand jury returned an indictment, agents executed arrest warrants and search warrants at eight residences in Detroit, Michigan, Proctorville, Ohio, and Huntington.  During the searches, agents seized large quantities of heroin, cocaine, crack, and marijuana, an additional $120,531 in cash, and a total of 41 firearms.

All four defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison and are each scheduled to be sentenced on March 6, 2017.

These prosecutions arose out of a long-term investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the West Virginia State Police, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, the Huntington Police Department, the Huntington FBI Drug Task Force, the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, which resulted in charging 12 defendants for offenses related to the distribution of heroin, crack, marijuana and alprazolam in Huntington. 

Six defendants have previously pleaded guilty for their roles in this drug ring. Matthew Michael Meadows, Arthur James Canada, Tanisha Lynette Wooding, Parker Wyatt Mays, Corey Bruce Toney and Roy Bills have all pleaded guilty to federal drug charges and are awaiting sentencing.

Assistant United States Attorney Joseph F. Adams is in charge of the prosecutions. The plea hearings were held before Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers. 

These cases are being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District. 

Drug Trafficking
Updated November 28, 2016