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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Arkansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 19, 2018

Leader Of Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced To Over 20 Years In Federal Prison

Fayetteville, Arkansas – Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and Little Rock FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Diane Upchurch, announced today that Derrick Nicholson, age 50, of Fayetteville, Arkansas was sentenced October 16, 2018 to 250 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release, on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and one count of Distribution of 50 Grams or More of actual Methamphetamine; He was ordered to pay fines and fees in the amount of $10,000.

According to court records, in late 2016 and continuing through early 2018 the FBI Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF) conducted an investigation into a local drug trafficking organization led by Derrick Nicholson. Beginning in January 2017, investigators conducted seven separate controlled purchases of methamphetamine and heroin from Derrick Nicholson and his associates. In July, 2017, Derrick Nicholson was arrested by state authorities on firearms  charges  and  was  subsequently   incarcerated, at  which   point  his  wife  and  co­conspirator LaQueecha Nicholson assumed direct control of the organization.  However, Derrick continued to play a leadership role in the operation of the organization from jail, coordinating shipments of methamphetamine and other drugs from California, Texas and Mississippi.  The investigation was large in scope, covering Northwest Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas and California.  In addition to large amounts of methamphetamine, the organization was distributing heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana.  Eleven firearms were seized during the investigation, two of which were stolen, as well as an AK-47. The investigation revealed the identity of other co-conspirators in the organization.

“This sentence is a direct result of two years of hard work and sacrifice put forth by the Northwest Arkansas Safe Street Task Force and local law enforcement,” stated U.S. Attorney Dak Kees.  “This operation is a prime example of the commitment Northwest Arkansas law enforcement has towards ensuring the safety of our community.” 

“I would like to sincerely thank all of our partners with the Northwest Arkansas Safe Streets Task Force, the US Attorney’s Office, and all of the hard working men and women within FBI-Little Rock who participated in the successful investigation and prosecution of this case,” stated SAC Upchurch.  “We hope that Derrick Nicholson’s 20 year jail sentence will serve as a warning to others that the people of the State of Arkansas will not tolerate the illegal distribution of narcotics within our state.”

In January of 2018, Derrick Nicholson, LaQueecha Nicholson, Johnny Nicholson, Rubin Morrow, Derrick Hill and Jeffery Hollingsworth were charged in a 15-count Indictment by the Grand Jury sitting in the Western District of Arkansas.  In March of 2018, seven additional co-conspirators were charged by the Grand Jury in separate indictments.  In addition to Derrick Nicholson, the following individuals have been convicted and sentenced as part of this case:

LaQueecha Nicholson, age 42, of Fayetteville, Arkansas was sentenced to 100 months in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release, on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and one count of Distribution of 50 Grams or More of a Mixture of Methamphetamine.

Johnny Nicholson, age 43, of Springdale, Arkansas was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release, on one count of Distribution of five or more grams of methamphetamine.

Marcus Derby, age 37, of Dallas, Texas was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release, on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine.

Jeffery Hollingsworth, age 50, of Fayetteville, Arkansas was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release, on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine.

Derrick Hill, age 42, of Fayetteville, Arkansas was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine.  The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearings in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

This case was investigated by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and prosecuted by AUSA David Harris as a part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, which is a nationwide effort that brings together federal, state and local law enforcement resources to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated October 19, 2018