Seven charged with crimes related to the manufacture and distribution of pills laced with fentanyl and other controlled substances
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a 27-count superseding indictment last Thursday against two brothers and five others, adding charges, including firearms and money laundering to an indictment first filed in May that charged them with a conspiracy to manufacture counterfeit pills containing fentanyl and other controlled substances, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen announced.
The superseding indictment charges Jamaine Barnes, 37, of Stockton, Calif., with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise from at least Sept. 27, 2015, through May 16, 2019. Jamaine Barnes and his brother Jamar Barnes, 37; Kavieo Wiley, 23; Vincent Patterson, 26; Kadrena Watts, 39; and Chevele Richardson, 33, all of Stockton, Calif., are charged with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and U-47700 (a synthetic opioid).
The superseding indictment charges Jamaine Barnes with distribution of fentanyl and four counts of money laundering; Jamaine Barnes and Wiley with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine on a premises where children are present; Jamaine Barnes and Watts with manufacture of methamphetamine on a premises where children reside; Jamaine Barnes, Wiley, Patterson and Richardson with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and Jamaine Barnes, Wiley and Richardson with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Two counts of using a cellphone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense were added against Lamont Thibodeaux, 40, of Houston, who is also charged with attempt to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Thibodeaux has not been arrested.
According to court documents, the conspiracy involved the manufacture (using pill press machines) and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceutical tablets containing fentanyl, heroin and U-47700, as well as purported Ecstasy/MDMA pills containing methamphetamine. Seized emails showed purchases from China of pill press parts and dies (molds for stamping logos and markings onto counterfeit pills) as well as controlled substances and other chemicals.
Charges from the original indictment remain pending against Johnesha Thompson, 42, and Jeremy Barnett, 32, both of Stockton, Calif., who were charged with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and U‑47700. Barnett was also charged with distributing fentanyl. Tashawn Dickerson, 39, of Riverbank, Calif., has pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and awaits sentencing.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, California Highway Patrol, San Joaquin METRO Narcotics Task Force, and the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Team Task Force with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Stockton Police Department, the Sacramento County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney David W. Spencer is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, the defendants face a variety of statutory penalties. Jamaine Barnes faces a minimum of 20 years and up to life in prison if convicted for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. The penalties for the other charges carry a range of minimum and maximum statutory penalties. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The OCDETF program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.