The Department of Justice announced Thursday that a total of 11 individuals were indicted for their roles in a “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and fentanyl” as a part of an investigation by the FBI that tracked the movement of the illicit substances from Washington and California into Tennessee.
“Our continued partnership with the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee, has resulted in the removal of 27 firearms, and the seizure of deadly fentanyl that has been linked to overdoses here in Dyersburg. We remain committed to the removal of this deadly drug, and illegally owned firearms from our community,” said Dyersburg Police Chief Steven L. Isbell.
The individuals charged in two rounds of indictments in July 2021 and then five months later in a superseding indictment in December are: Vinson Taylor, Jr., Alexis Ballard, Isaiah A. Gauldin, Ja’Quon Roberson, Savontay Laquar Womack-Knight, Cooper Keeling Hurt, David LaFonta Ray, Jr., Quason Brent Taylor, Jaci Rinae Neary, Dwanyae Smith, and Daniel Michael Gutierrez.
After the original indictment, agents issued a search warrant for Womack-Knight and Neary’s residence in Lakewood, Washington, where “two firearms, $48,405 in U.S. currency, various items of jewelry, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and numerous pills containing fentanyl” were discovered.
Based on the evidence obtained by authorities, investigators determined Womack-Knight would mail the drugs to Taylor, Jr., who would then distribute them among the others involved. All 11 suspects have been placed into custody.
The team seized “over 44 kilograms of marijuana (97 pounds) and over 5,000 fentanyl pills, which were being shipped via mail and then distributed in the Western District of Tennessee.”
Through social media warrant returns, agents obtained photographs and videos of the defendants in possession of the drugs, and also confiscated firearms and “large amounts of cash.”
“The FBI and our law enforcement partners are dedicated to disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations and ending the violence they bring to our communities,” said Douglas M. Korneski, special agent in charge of the Memphis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “As exemplified by the successful combined efforts of our team, we are committed to eliminating these criminal enterprises.”
If convicted, each defendant faces five years imprisonment up to life.
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