A grand jury returned a 23 count indictment earlier this week charging 22 people with various offenses relating to a conspiracy to distribute heroin and other illegal drugs in Middle Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri.
According to the indictment, during their year-long investigation, authorities identified Jamal Cooper of Antioch as one of the leaders and supervisors in the drug conspiracy.
Authorities said Cooper was responsible for obtaining large quantities of heroin from multiple sources, including Lonald Ector and Robert Gonzales, both of California.
The defendants used multiple homes and properties in Nashville, Antioch and Alabama to store the heroin and cash.
According to authorities, much of the heroin had been diluted or replaced with fentanyl and caused or contributed to the death of at least two people in Alabama and was responsible for multiple non-fatal overdoses.
“These heroin-related overdoses and deaths are absolutely unacceptable,” Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said. “Arrests like those announced today show that violent criminal activity associated with the illegal drug trade will not be tolerated by law enforcement and our partners in prosecutors’ offices at the state and federal level.”
As of Friday morning, 21 of the 22 suspects including Jamal Cooper, Lonald Ector, Robert Gonzales, D’Ron Robinson, Karon Key Jordan, Jasmond Foster, William Earl Foster, Jr., Donquez Groves, Wilton Bailey, Clifford Woods, Tommy E. Smith, Sheteeka Bryant, Eric Williams, Robert Foxx, Shawna Caroline Foster, Jerry Ray Cochran, William Kimbrough III, Wallace Earl Coffey, Wallace Beckwith and Thomas Barnett, were in custody for their involvement.
Authorities are continuing to search for Darnell Finnels.
“He is still at large. We desperately need to get him into custody. Not only is he under indictment for the selling of heroin, he is also a dangerous individual we need to get off the streets,” explained Chief Anderson.
All involved face various drug charges and face ten years to life in prison.