Georgia cocaine trafficker and money launderer is sentenced to 30 years in federal prison

 

Date: April 7, 2022

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Today, U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell handed down a 30-year sentence to the leader of a drug and money laundering organization operating across the Carolinas, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term imposed, U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell ordered Jared Shemaiah Jones, of Alpharetta, Georgia, to serve five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney King is joined in making this announcement by Donald "Trey" Eakins, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, Charlotte Field Office (IRS-CI); Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office; Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), which oversees Charlotte; and Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in North Carolina and South Carolina.

According to filed documents and court proceedings, between 2014 and September 2020, the drug conspiracy trafficked approximately 1,000 kilograms of cocaine from California into North Carolina and South Carolina and laundered the criminal proceeds. During the investigation, law enforcement seized 30 kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of heroin, and approximately $500,000 in cash. Jones previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, money laundering conspiracy, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

In handing down Jones's sentence, Judge Bell noted that, in addition to harming substance users, Jones also recruited several people into the conspiracy who, but for his influence, would have lived law-abiding lives.

Judge Bell previously sentenced Jones's co-defendants as follows:

  • Jasneko Marquell Wright, of Newberry, South Carolina, was sentenced to 120 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and money laundering conspiracy.
  • Joel Mark Walker, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced to 84 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for money laundering conspiracy.
  • Jarmel Brownlee, of Charlotte, was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and money laundering conspiracy.
  • Nathasha Lawes, of Clover, South Carolina, was sentenced to 36 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
  • Phonesavanh Phonesavang, of Charlotte, was sentenced to 36 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
  • Marlaina Nashae Smoot, of Newberry, South Carolina, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
  • Judiet Vontella Cooper, of Charlotte, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, money laundering conspiracy, and possession with intent to distribute heroin.
  • Marquita Andrea Hunter, of Columbia, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

Jervonta Antonio Walker, of Los Angeles, California, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, money laundering conspiracy, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and is currently awaiting sentencing.

An additional defendant indicted in this case, Yannick Anderson, of New York, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, money laundering conspiracy, three counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and possession of firearm by felon, and remains a fugitive.

Today's lengthy sentence stems from an investigation led by one of the Western District of North Carolina's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles criminal organizations using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.

In making today's announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the IRS, DEA, USPIS, and HSI as well as the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, the Rock Hill Police Department, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the Lexington County, S.C., Sheriff's Department, the Richland County, S.C., Sheriff's Department, the York County, S.C., Sheriff's Office, and the City of Columbia, S.C., Police Department for their investigative efforts.

Assistant United States Attorney Steven R. Kaufman, of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.