NASHVILLE, TN (WAFF) - A federal grand jury returned a 23-count indictment, charging 22 people with offenses related to a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of heroin and fentanyl in Tennessee, Alabama, and Missouri.
Much of the heroin had been altered with fentanyl, a pain medication, contributing to the death of at least two people in Alabama. It was also responsible for multiple non-fatal overdoses, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Local, state and federal agents began arresting the suspects named in the indictment on Thursday. As of Friday morning, 21 suspects were in custody.
According to the indictment, Jamal Cooper of Anioch, Tennessee, is one of the leaders and supervisors of the heroin distribution conspiracy. Investigators said he was responsible for obtaining large amounts of heroin from California. He then used various properties in Nashville and Antioch, Tennessee, and Florence and Sheffield, Alabama to store the drugs and drug money.
The indictment alleges that members of the conspiracy diluted the heroin to increase their profits and distributed fentanyl, which they purported to be heroin.
According to the indictment, the defendants were undeterred after finding out about the deaths and overdoses and continued to distribute the diluted drugs.
"These heroin-related overdoses and deaths are absolutely unacceptable," Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said. "Arrests like those announced today show that violent criminal activity associated with the illegal drug trade will not be tolerated by law enforcement and our partners in prosecutors' offices at the state and federal level."
The following people were charged in the indictment:
- Jamal Cooper, aka Jamal Jordan, aka J, aka Mal, 37, of Antioch, Tennessee;
- Lonald Ector, aka J.R., 46, of San Bernardino, California;
- Robert Gonzales, 29, of Fontana, California;
- D'Ron Robinson, aka St. Louis, 25, of Jackson, Tennessee;
- Karon Key Jordan, 34, of Gallatin, Tennessee;
- Jasmond Foster, aka Jazz, 26, of Sheffield, Alabama;
- William Earl Foster, Jr., aka Buck, 25, of Florence, Alabama;
- Donquez Groves, aka Lewis Palmer, aka Little Donnie, 31, of Nashville, Tennessee;
- Wilton Bailey, aka Willy Will, 38, of Nashville, Tennessee;
- Clifford Woods, aka Wimpy, 55, of Gallatin, Tennessee;
- Tommy E. Smith, 37, of Nashville, Tennessee;
- Sheteeka Bryant, 34, of Nashville, Tennessee;
- Eric Williams, aka E, 38, of Nashville, Tennessee;
- Robert Foxx, aka D-Tay, aka Johnny, 28, of Nashville, Tennessee;
- Darnell Finnels, aka Ski, aka Skeezy, 24, of Nashville, Tennessee;
- Shawna Caroline Foster, 36, of Florence, Alabama;
- Jerry Ray Cochran, aka J Ray, 40, of Florence, Alabama;
- William Kimbrough III, aka Trey, 37, of Tuscumbia, Alabama;
- Wallace Earl Coffey, aka Nephew, aka Beck, 27, of Sheffield, Alabama;
- Wallace Beckwith, aka Duke, 47, of Florence, Alabama; and
- Thomas Barnett, aka Ham, aka Hambone, 27, of Florence, Alabama.
One person has not been arrested and is being sought in Nashville.