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DEA-Led Investigation Results in Sentencing of Three Iowa Heroin and Fentanyl Dealers Causing an Overdose Death

JULY 26 (OMAHA, Neb.) ––Three Dubuque, Iowa, men have been sentenced for their part in distributing heroin and fentanyl that killed a Dubuque, Iowa, man in 2016.  Darin Thimmesch, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Omaha District Office, announced the sentencing today.

Derrick Jermain Brown, 26, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment following his February 21, 2017 guilty plea to conspiring to distribute heroin and fentanyl within 1,000 feet of a playground and public elementary school.  Co-defendant, Antwain Deshaun Spratt, 39, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment following his December 2016 guilty plea to distributing heroin within 1,000 feet of a playground and a public elementary school and his February 2017 guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The third co-defendant, Tywone Derrel Matthews, 41, was sentenced to just under 6 years’ imprisonment after the court found him guilty on January 31, 2017 of distributing heroin near a playground and a public elementary school, distributing heroin and fentanyl near a playground and a public elementary school, and possessing with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl near a playground and a public elementary school.

“Drug dealers, like the ones sentenced today, are dealing poison in our communities without regard to the life and welfare of their neighbors and common man,” said Thimmesch.  “Dealing drugs laced with fentanyl is a lethal concoction, and to knowingly distribute those drugs shows a complete disregard for life.” 

“DEA is proud of our relationship with our state and local law enforcement partners,” added Thimmesch.  “Without those partnerships, individuals like the ones sentenced today may never face justice for the atrocities they commit in our communities and neighborhoods.”

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa found Brown was a leader of a heroin and fentanyl distribution ring operating out of a residence on Iowa Street in Dubuque.  During court proceedings, Brown admitted to selling over 1 kilogram of heroin over the course of about three years.  Brown also admitted that on April 11, 2016, a female heroin customer called Brown to order heroin from him.  Following the call to Brown, Matthews left the Iowa Street residence, met with the customer, and distributed a mixture of heroin and fentanyl to her.  The customer took the heroin/fentanyl mixture back to the residence she shared with her boyfriend, and she and her boyfriend injected some of it.  After injecting the mixture, the female lost consciousness.  When she awoke, her boyfriend was dead of an overdose.  The court sentenced Brown and Matthews to additional time in prison for their roles in distributing the heroin and fentanyl mixture that caused the boyfriend’s death.

During his plea hearing in December 2016, Spratt admitted he sold heroin to another individual during an undercover operation.  Evidence at a prior hearing showed that in April 2016, while a federal arrest warrant was pending on the heroin charge, Deputy United States Marshals found Spratt hiding in a closet in a Dubuque residence.  Officers found a handgun in a clothes hamper outside the closet where Spratt was hiding.  Spratt’s previous criminal history involved criminal convictions for three prior drug felonies in Illinois, as well as felony theft and willful injury in Black Hawk County, Iowa.

Chief United States District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand sentenced Brown, Spratt, and Matthews in Cedar Rapids, and all three men are currently being held in the custody of the United States Marshal Service until they can be transferred into the custody of the Unites States Bureau of Prisons. 

In addition to Brown, Spratt, and Matthews, four other co-defendants in this investigation were previously sentenced for their involvement in this drug distribution ring.  D’Anthony Lamont Moore was sentenced to 75 months’ imprisonment following his guilty plea to three counts of distributing heroin near a school and playground.  Jeffery Donta Hitchcock was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment following his guilty pleas to distributing heroin near a college and playground.  Antoine Tavares Mitchell was sentenced to 13 months’ imprisonment following his guilty plea to conspiring to distribute heroin.  Antrell Desharron Lewis was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for distributing heroin near a school and playground.  Lewis was also subsequently convicted of distributing and conspiring to distribute heroin and furanyl fentanyl resulting in death and serious bodily injury.  He is awaiting sentencing on those charges.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Dubuque Drug Task Force which consists of law enforcement officers from the DEA; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Linn County Sheriff's Office; the Marion Police Department; the Iowa City Police Department; and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement. 

This investigation was successfully prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa.


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