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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 23, 2017

7 Alleged Members of Drug Trafficking Organization Charged in 16-Count Indictment

Jackson, TN – Seven alleged members of a drug trafficking organization responsible for shipping large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and Xanax across West Tennessee have been charged in a 16-count indictment. Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the indictment today.

On Thursday, January 19th, and Friday, January 20th, four of the defendants were taken into custody by federal, state and local law enforcement officials. Two of the defendants were already incarcerated on unrelated charges. One remains a fugitive.

The following defendants have been indicted for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of ice, among other charges:

• Bernard Cooper, 31, of Jackson, Tennessee
• Courtney Cooper, 37, of Jackson, Tennessee
• Robert Newsom, 34, of Jackson, Tennessee (fugitive)
• Brandon Weddle, 27, of Jackson, Tennessee
• Ronricus Chapman, 30, of Jackson, Tennessee
• Morgan Bond, 29, of Jackson, Tennessee
• Stephen Williams, 29, of Jackson, Tennessee

According to the indictment, between August 2015 and May 2016, the defendants intentionally conspired with each other to unlawfully distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of ice — meth with a purity level greater than 80 percent. The defendants allegedly aided and abetted each other during the commission of the aforementioned crime.

During the course of a nearly two-year investigation of the criminal organization, law enforcement officers seized more than 550 kilograms of marijuana, 240 grams of ice, 220 grams of cocaine, 20 grams of heroin, and 1,000 Xanax pills.

During its round-up of the defendants, law enforcement seized an additional eight pounds of marijuana, as well as small amounts of heroin, cocaine and Xanax. Two loaded pistols and five vehicles were also seized.

Additional charges listed in the indictment:

• Bernard Cooper, Newsome, Weddle, Chapman and Bond are also charged with additional counts of conspiring with each other to unlawfully distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, and more than 50 grams of ice. They also aided and abetted each other to distribute, attempt to distribute, possess with the intent to distribute and attempt to possess with the intent to distribute the aforementioned substances.

• Bernard Cooper and Newsome are charged with an additional count of intentionally distributing, attempting to distribute, possessing with the intent to distribute and attempting to possess with the intent to distribute more than five grams of ice.

• Bernard Cooper and Courtney Cooper are charged with an additional count of intentionally distributing, attempting to distribute, possessing with the intent to distribute and attempting to possess with the intent to distribute meth.

• Bernard Cooper is also charged with unlawfully possessing a .223 caliber rifle; and intentionally distributing, attempting to distribute, possessing with the intent to distribute and attempting to possess with the intent to distribute heroin.

• Williams is also charged with unlawfully possessing a 12-gauge shotgun, which had been previously shipped and transported in interstate commerce.

• Courtney Cooper has also been charged with intentionally distributing, attempting to distribute, possessing with the intent to distribute and attempting to possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of ice.

All seven defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in federal prison and fines of up to $10 million for both the conspiracy and aiding and abetting charges.

Penalties for the additional charges listed in the indictment range from five to 20 years in federal prison and carry fines of up to $10 million.

This case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI); Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and the Jackson-Madison County Metro Narcotics Unit.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Boswell is prosecuting this case on the government’s behalf.

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated January 23, 2017