The U.S. Attorney's Office today announced results of a major, multi-year investigation involving 32 local suspects charged with offenses involving cocaine and crack cocaine.
Hearings for at least 16 of the suspects will be held this afternoon in federal court.
If convicted, some face mandatory minimum life in prison sentences based on their criminal histories, officials said.
Agents with the DEA, FBI, TBI and Chattanooga Police Department have been investigating these crimes, some as far back as 2009.
The partnership among law enforcement agencies was crucial in bringing charges against these individuals, Police Chief Dodd said at a news conference this afternoon.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke called the operation a "next step" in improving public safety" in the city.
The news release from the office of U.S. Attorney William "Bill" Killian:
A federal grand jury in Chattanooga returned nine indictments charging 32 people on Oct. 22, 2013. Indictments charge Robert Stephon North, 34, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Juanzell Jenkins, 37, of Adairsville, Ga.; Joe Jenkins, 40, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Jumoke Johnson, Jr., 20, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Shannon D. Mitchell, 29, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Gerald Toney, 33, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Dejuan Cooper, 23, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Guy L. Wilkerson, Jr., 20, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Rodney Harris II, 22, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Frank White, 30, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Valentino Harris, 28, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Torrey Gilmore, 38, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Reginald D. Oakley, 39, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Tommy Ryals, 34, of Atlanta, Ga.; Juane Joseph, 19, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Leonita Blackmon, 32, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; LaJeromeny Brown, 35, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Kenneth Hopkins, 49, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Kentarius Nealy, 20, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Idriss Barr, 29, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Adrian Washington, 36, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Milo E. Geiger, 36, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Jerry Wayne Alexander, Jr., 41, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Johnny Caldwell, Jr., 44, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Garry Brown, 24, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Robert Siler, 27, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Thaddius L. Humphrey, 32, of Chattanooga, Tenn., with conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack”), and/or five kilograms or more of cocaine. Derrick L. Smith, 22, of Chattanooga, Tenn., is charged with possession of cocaine base (“crack”) with the intent to distribute it. Donte Taylor, 27, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Rahmon Christian, 21, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Tramale Johnson, 25, of Chattanooga, Tenn., are charged with being convicted felons in possession of firearms. Johnson is also charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Finally, Stephone L. Reed, 23, of Chattanooga, Tenn., is charged with car-jacking, brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The coordinated arrests of these individuals by federal, state and local law enforcement began on the morning of Nov. 4, 2013. The arrested individuals will be appearing in U.S. District Court this afternoon and throughout the remainder of the week.
If convicted, the individuals charged with conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack”), and/or five kilograms or more of cocaine face a sentence of at least 10 years to life. Depending on their previous criminal histories, these individuals could face a sentence of 20 years to life or even a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. If convicted Derrick L. Smith faces up to 20 years in prison. If convicted Donte Taylor, Rahmon Christian, and Tramale Johnson face at least 0-10 years in prison, and possibly 15 years to life depending on their previous felony convictions. If convicted Stephone L. Reed faces 0-15 years in prison for carjacking, plus seven years to life for brandishing the firearm during a crime of violence. Any of these individuals who are convicted would also face a potential fine, restitution, and a period of supervised release. Sentences in federal court are served without the possibility of parole.
This indictment is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chattanooga Police Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Red Bank Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Marshals Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Poole and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas Regalia and Meredith Edwards will represent the United States.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...