Some "major players" in local drug trade nabbed in DEA roundup
The drug roundup Channel 3 first told you about Monday is not over. Local, state, and federal agencies put the cuffs on more people Tuesday in Chattanooga.
In total, 32 people have been indicted, 28 of those charged with cocaine and crack cocaine distribution. The suspects range in age from 19 to 49.
Channel 3 was there when DEA officials and sheriff's deputies swarmed on a duplex on Gadd Road in Red Bank. Authorities say the residence is now involved in an ongoing federal investigation.
A majority of the men indicted have been in and out of jail for years, with police calling them Chattanooga's worst criminals and major players in the local drug trade. Now they face some serious prison time. Federal, state and local officials say this round-up is just the beginning.
"Out of those 28 people, they are related indictments, charged in conspiracies to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, 10 ounces or more of crack cocaine," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Poole.
After four years of secret work, the feds finally moved in and will throw the book at these defendants.
"It will depend on each person's criminal history, but it's at least 10 years to life if convicted as charged," said Poole.
"This investigation targeted not only drugs being distributed in the Chattanooga area, but the violence associated with it," said Mike Stanfill, with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Some of the "major players" swept up in the operation include 35-year-old LaJeromeny Brown. He has been booked before for attempted murder, selling or delivering cocaine, and possession of cocaine and marijuana. Other so-called "big fish" include 30-year-old Frank White, 49-year-old Kenneth Hopkins, 41-year-old Jerry Wayne Alexander, and 20-year-old Jumoke Johnson Jr. Their past charges range from cocaine possession and aggravated assault, to unlawful possession of a weapon.
"The sentencing is stronger and then you're going to do 85 percent of that as well. We're hoping the immediate impact of those 32 people coming off the street is going to be amazing to the safety of Chattanooga," said Chief Bobby Dodd.
Chief Dodd says only more indictments and arrests will come.
"It's a follow-through. It's one of the first steps we're taking in tying this in with the High Point Initiative," said Dodd.
Even though the investigation began years before Mayor Andy Berke even announced a run for mayor, he is connecting the bust to his version of the crime-fighting plan called the High Point Initiative.
"I think you'll see as you look at the individuals, this has been targeted and making sure that we send a message that the violence has to stop," said Berke.
With federal sentences, these offenders have no possibility of parole.
Chief Dodd says things are really ramping up with the High Point Initiative. Just last week, Chattanooga officers were in New York City for training. And next week, the creator of the High Point Initiative, David Kennedy from John Jay College, will be here in Chattanooga.