Fifteen defendants charged in a multi-state drug trafficking organization


Date: December 15, 2022


United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced that on December 13, 2022, a federal grand jury sitting in Milwaukee returned a Superseding Indictment charging fifteen defendants with offenses related to a drug trafficking organization that obtained kilogram quantities of fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana from California for distribution in the Milwaukee, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Chicago areas. Many of the individuals were also charged in a money laundering conspiracy based upon their alleged use of business accounts to conceal drug proceeds. Multiple defendants also are charged with possessing firearms in furtherance of the drug trafficking conspiracy.

Included among the defendants is Phillip Daniels, Sr., also known as "Dr. Phil," who is alleged to be the current leader of the organization. According to a criminal complaint, Phillip Daniels, Sr. obtained fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana from suppliers in California and arranged to have the substances shipped to addresses in Milwaukee and the St. Paul/Minneapolis area. The organization also is alleged to have obtained and sold counterfeit oxycodone pills, which contained fentanyl or methamphetamine. According to court records, a financial investigation revealed that members of the drug trafficking organization funneled over two million dollars in proceeds into bank accounts associated with various businesses.

Name City, State
Phillip Daniels, Sr. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Roy Henton, aka "Pops"  Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Joathan I. Colula Los Angeles, California
Julio Barraza Chino Hills, California
Deonte Edwards Van Nuys, California
Jimmy Gonzalez-Macias Anaheim, California
Jameel Bradley, Sr., aka "Chris," aka "Black" Forest Park, Illinois
Michael O. Williams Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Joelle Massey Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Kevin Nelson Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Ramona Fryer Eagan Minnesota
Carla Smith North St. Paul, Minnesota
Itzel Cruz-Gonzalez Forest Park, Illinois
Dominique Lewis Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Betty J. Daniels Lomira, Wisconsin

According to court records, on November 29, 2022, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers executed search warrants in Milwaukee, Chicago, Minnesota, and California, resulting in the seizure of over 10 kilograms of fentanyl (comprised of over 5 kilograms of pressed fentanyl and over 5 kilograms of fentanyl in pill form), approximately 7 ½ kilograms of cocaine, more than one kilogram of methamphetamine (comprised of crystal methamphetamine and methamphetamine pills), nearly 2

kilograms of heroin, ecstasy, oxycodone, approximately 170 pounds of marijuana, marijuana edibles, over $450,000, and 19 firearms.

"The charges announced today are the direct result of the tireless work and collaboration of dozens of dedicated law enforcement professionals from federal, state, and local law enforcement in Wisconsin and across the country," stated U.S. Attorney Haanstad. "Ingesting just two milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal for some users, and law enforcement's work resulted in seizing over 10 kilograms of this lethal substance from alleged members of this organization in a single day. I commend the efforts of all involved in this incredibly important effort."

"The DEA is grateful for the collaboration and partnership of our local and federal law enforcement agencies," said John G. McGarry, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Milwaukee District Office. "Engaging our local partners, especially through the task force officer model, is vital to bringing dangerous drug traffickers to justice."

Thirteen defendants are charged in a conspiracy to distribute at least 400 grams or more of fentanyl, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, 1 kilogram or more of heroin, 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. If convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison. One defendant is charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and cocaine and faces a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and up to 40 years in prison. Certain defendants are also charged in a conspiracy to launder money. Furthermore, certain defendants are charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

If convicted of those charges, the defendants face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and up to life in prison. Two of the defendants are also charged with possessing an automatic firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, which if they are convicted of those counts, face a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison and up to life in prison.

The defendants were charged based on a long-term investigation, "Operation Platinum Ghost," led by law enforcement agents and officers from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Group and the North Central High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigations, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, all of whom were assisted by the Milwaukee Police Department, including the Special Investigations Division, the Tactical Enforcement Unit, Districts Two, Four, and Seven, the United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Postal Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the West Allis Police Department, the Dodge County Police Department, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, the South Shore Joint Tactical Unit, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, the Greenfield Police Department, the Brookfield Police Department, the City of Waukesha Police Department, the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department, the Dakota County Drug Unit, the Apple Valley Police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Anaheim Police Department, Los Angeles HIDTA Groups 44, 50, 51, and 52, and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Major Narcotics Bureau.

Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth Monfils and Erica Lounsberry are prosecuting the case.

The public is cautioned that a Superseding Indictment is merely a charge and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.