Nineteen members of a Charleston, Missouri-based drug trafficking organization accused of being the main supplier of methamphetamine and fentanyl to southeast Missouri have been indicted on a felony drug conspiracy charge, U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming announced Friday.
Arrests by federal, state and local law enforcement began Thursday, followed by arraignments in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau.
“As someone who grew up in Charleston, I can tell you that this case perfectly illustrates that drugs are not just a big city problem,” U.S. Attorney Fleming said. “Drugs, and the often-violent criminals who sell them, are a plague on otherwise law-abiding communities, big or small. This drug trafficking organization was the main supplier of methamphetamine and fentanyl in southeast Missouri, as you can see in the court records. I want to reassure the southeast Missouri community that this case is and will remain a priority for my office.”
All 19 defendants face a charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances, including Demarcus P. Turner and Jadarius A. McCain.
Motions seeking to have Turner, McCain and three other defendants jailed until trial say that Turner and McCain were leaders of the drug trafficking conspiracy and also led a Charleston gang, “Just Bout Money,” or JBM. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been seized during the investigation, as well as about 65 kilograms of methamphetamine, 3.55 kilograms of cocaine, 653.9 grams of fentanyl, 215 grams of MDMA and 5.85 kilograms of marijuana, the motion says.
The group received drugs in the mail and via couriers who flew or drove to their sources of supply, including Georgia-based co-defendant Damien Davenport, the motion says. Couriers were repeatedly intercepted with dozens of pounds of drugs in suitcases, it says.
The detention motion says JBM members have been linked to shootings in southeast Missouri and southern Illinois, including a Feb. 19, 2022 JBM-hosted party where two people were fatally shot and 14 others injured.
McCain pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday. Turner is currently in state custody facing one felony count of second-degree murder and 15 counts of first-degree assault related to a July 2022 shooting in Sikeston, the motions say.
“The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force are dedicated and committed to removing illicit drugs from our communities,” said Roger L. Phillips, director of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control. “The JBM drug trafficking organization has devastated our communities for years by flooding them with pounds and pounds of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cocaine. In addition to the harmful effects these drugs cause to their users, violence is often associated with these drug sales. This investigation has led to indictments not only in Missouri, but in multiple other states. We are proud of the efforts put forth by all the participating agencies, stand committed to protecting our citizens, and will continue to combat drugs being sold in our communities.”
“Drug trafficking organizations like this one are spider webs of illegal activity with connections across the country,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Colin Dickey, lead of Drug Enforcement Administration investigations in Eastern Missouri. “DEA takes particular interest in dismantling and destroying them – from street level dealers and up the chain. It takes the combined efforts of multiple DEA offices and our federal, state and local partners to do this, but the effort is worth it to ensure these illegal drug operations cannot harm communities any longer.”
“In addition to Missouri, members of this drug trafficking organization were also arrested in Arkansas, Georgia, and North Carolina,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg of the FBI St. Louis Division. “The success of this case is a prime example of the effective partnerships between the local, state, and federal levels. Local and state agencies have the eyes and ears on the ground to develop information which often leads to an initial investigation. While at the federal level, we expand investigations nationwide or worldwide when needed to dismantle an entire enterprise.”
“The organized drug distribution ring, known as the JBM or Just Bout Money gang, has been a cause of concern for the safety and well-being of the good citizens in Charleston,” said Mississippi County Sheriff Britton H. Ferrell. “The collaboration among federal, state, and local agencies in this operation demonstrates a commitment to dismantling such networks that endanger lives and contribute to harming our community.”
Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office, the Perry County Sheriff’s Office, the Charleston Department of Public Safety, the Sikeston Department of Public Safety and the Cape Girardeau Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Shelton is prosecuting the case.