Arrests made in Birmingham heroin trafficking ring
BIRMINGHAM - Federal agents and Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies working with the U.S. Attorney's Office today arrested eight men and are searching for a ninth who are charged in a drug-trafficking conspiracy that brought about $5 million worth of heroin and cocaine into the Birmingham area in less than a year, according to an indictment unsealed following the arrests. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr., Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Jeff Fulton announced the arrests, which resulted from a joint investigation that began in 2011 to combat large-scale narcotics trafficking in western Birmingham and Jefferson County. The investigation focused on BILLY "Champ" WILLIAMS Jr., now charged as a large-scale heroin and cocaine distributor in western Birmingham, and his network of operators. For more than a year, the FBI gathered evidence exposing an extensive drug-trafficking operation. The investigation culminated with the Jan. 25 arrest of SAMMUEL DEWAYNE "Ros" GULLEY, 28, of Fairfield, identified as a key member of the organization. Gulley was arrested in possession of two kilograms of nearly pure heroin following a high-speed chase with Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies. Later that night, agents seized one and a half kilograms of cocaine from a home associated with Williams and Gulley. "In 2012, the Birmingham area found itself awash in heroin overdose deaths. A drug that no one expected to experience a rebirth began claiming the lives of young people, people in their 20s, 30s, and even their teens," Vance said. "There were at least 78 overdose deaths in Jefferson and Shelby counties, and perhaps an equal number of cases where overdose death was averted by the swift action of emergency medical technicians" she said. "This investigation puts drug traffickers on notice that we are going to wipe out this epidemic and that criminal networks that profit from the sale of these deadly and highly addictive substances will not be tolerated. Law enforcement at all levels engaged in a highly coordinated effort in this case and we intend to employ the full force of law and justice to investigate and prosecute drug trafficking." "The arrests made in this investigation highlight the great work being done by the North Alabama Safe Streets Task Force and is a clear example of the determination and collaborative spirit among area law enforcement agencies to dismantle criminal enterprises that pose the most significant threat," Schwein said. "Asset forfeiture is a vital tool in disrupting criminal organizations by depriving them of property used or acquired through illegal activities," Hyman-Pillot said. "We are proud to have contributed our financial expertise in order to dismantle the drug-trafficking operation that has been targeting Jefferson County citizens for the past year." "This case took a lot of hard work and cooperation between our agencies, and every bit of the time and effort was worth it," Hale said. "These are the kinds of dangerous drug dealers whose dealings are literally killing people, not to mention all of the spin-off violent crime they are responsible for. I want to personally thank all involved in helping remove them from our streets. Jefferson County is a safer place with them locked away, no doubt," he said. "This indictment is the culmination of a lengthy investigation," Fulton said. "This investigation is more evidence that ATF's commitment to combating violent crime is unwavering. We will utilize every resource to make our communities safer places to live." The eight people arrested today on conspiracy or drug distribution charges in a 41-count April 2013 indictment were: WILLIAMS., 40, of Midfield; WALTER "Walt T" JOHNSON, 47, and WILBERT CURTIS "Bing" DALTON JR., 41, both of Dolomite; GRADY ISAM "Shady Grady" JENKINS, 46, twin brothers DEANDRE R."Laray" or "Tojo," MURRELL and DEALDRE R. "Twin" MURRELL, 27, and MARION "Tuna" REYNOLDS JR., 52, all of Birmingham; and VERNON LLWELLYN "RJ" MCADORY, 38, of Bessemer. Authorities are still searching for ABE "Cuz" JOHNSON, 49, of Birmingham. Nine of the 10 defendants - all but Dalton -- are charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine between May 2012 and April 2013 in Jefferson County. Four counts of the indictment charge various defendants with distributing or possessing with intent to distribute either heroin or cocaine. Jenkins and Dalton are charged with distributing heroin on Nov. 28, 2012. Williams and Gulley are charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute narcotics on Jan. 25, 2013, one count for a kilogram or more of heroin and one count for 500 grams or more of cocaine. Jenkins faces one count of distributing heroin on April 9, 2013. The remaining 36 counts charge use of a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking. The 36 counts correspond to individual phone calls made between Oct. 18, 2012, and Jan. 25, 2013. According to the indictment, all the calls involve Williams. Along with Williams, other defendants charged with drug-trafficking phone calls are: Gulley, 12 counts; Walter Johnson, five counts; Deandre Murrell and Jenkins, four counts each; Dealdre Murrell, three counts; Reynolds and Abe Johnson, two counts each; and McAdory, one count. The drug conspiracy count carries a sentence of 10 years to life in prison. The charge of possessing with intent to distribute heroin carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The charge of possessing with intent to distribute a kilogram or more of heroin carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The charge of possessing with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. The charge of using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. The FBI, IRS-CID and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office investigated the case, with assistance from ATF and the Birmingham and Hueytown police departments. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory R. Dimler is prosecuting the case.