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Press Release

Five Members of a Large-Scale Heroin and Fentanyl Distribution Network Indicted

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee

Memphis, TN – Five members of a large-scale heroin and fentanyl distribution network have been indicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl; possession of heroin and fentanyl with intent to distribute; and being a convicted felon in possession of handguns. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the indictment today.

According to information presented in court, on September 19, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Decarlos Rodgers, 41, Darius Chalmers, 26, Entonyo Chalmers, 28, Louis Taylor, 35, and Blake Owens, 50, as part of a heroin and fentanyl trafficking scheme. In June, the Shelby County District Attorney's Office announced the indictment of 30 individuals for a large heroin and fentanyl organization. These five defendants were significant to that criminal organization. The organization used several different cell phones to take orders from customers who ordered heroin and fentanyl. The orders would then be filled, provided to the customer and exchanged the heroin and fentanyl for money.

Investigators with the Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit were able to discover the methods of distribution, conduct surveillance to find out who the distributors were, and buy some of the drugs themselves to find out exactly what was being distributed. In each case, investigators discovered the substances being sold were a mixture of heroin and fentanyl.

According to other evidence presented in court, Owens bought heroin and fentanyl from the organization and then redistributed the drugs to his workers and construction crews who were working to open a new club in Memphis. Owens is the son of Danny Owens, a well-known Memphian once known as the "topless night club kingpin." In the 1990s, both Danny and Blake Owens served long prison sentences for their roles in gambling, prostitution, and money laundering crimes. Blake Owens served more than 15 years in federal prison for his role in the kidnapping and torture of an individual related to the gambling and nightclub business.

What is fentanyl? Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substance Act which is fifty times more potent than heroin and one hundred times more so than morphine. Fentanyl has undoubtedly contributed to the sharp increase in opioid deaths both nationally and locally. Because of the rise in deaths associated with the introduction of this narcotic into the drug market, the Department of Justice and this District have taken an aggressive approach in identifying distributors, especially those whose distribution results in death.

If convicted, Rodgers faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and up to life. Both Owens and Darius Chalmers face a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and up to life. Entonyo Chalmers and Taylor face a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to life. There is no possibility of parole in the federal system.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: "Fentanyl is a deadly drug that destroys lives, and the substantial quantity of fentanyl possessed by the defendants for resale could have caused countless injuries and deaths. Under the new opioid strategy of this office and the Department of Justice, we will seek maximum sentencing penalties for any person distributing any amount of fentanyl in West Tennessee. If you are a drug dealer causing addiction, pain, and death for selfish personal gain, we will find you and hold you accountable."

The Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit investigated this case.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Griffith is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. This case is part of the Heroin Initiative in collaboration with the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office.

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


Cherri Green
Public Affairs
(901) 544-4231

Updated October 17, 2019