By Jason A. Smith
A Stockbridge couple is facing federal charges, as part of a probe into the alleged smuggling of guns and drugs. Indictments were unsealed, Thursday, for Devon Samuels, 45, also known as "Smokey," and his wife, Keisha Jones, 30, also known as "Platinum," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta.
Jones, a Delta employee, and Samuels, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, are charged in connection with "Operation Rude Beast," the code name for a large-scale investigation into drug trafficking, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said Samuels, in November, was charged in connection with three undercover sting operations to smuggle alleged drug money and guns through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
"The indictment charges a Customs and Border Protection agent at the airport with taking payoffs to smuggle guns and drug money from undercover agents posing as international drug traffickers," said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Quillian Yates. "That investigation led to unraveling a large-scale ecstasy trafficking organization and the seizure of over $2.8 million worth of ecstasy from a house in Chamblee -- one of the largest seizures in the country."
Jones and Samuels are each charged with conspiring to launder $22,000 in drug money, bulk cash smuggling, and attempting to bring weapons onto an aircraft. Also charged with the same offenses is Mark Tomlinson, 36, of Stone Mountain, known as "Supa."
"With the alleged assistance of his associate, Tomlinson, and by unlawfully utilizing his badge to bypass security and avoid screening, Samuels smuggled the money through Atlanta's airport to Jamaica," wrote U.S. Attorney's Office Spokesman Patrick Crosby. "Once in Jamaica, Samuels delivered the money to a Jamaican undercover police officer, who was posing as an international drug trafficker."
Samuels is charged with accepting $50,000 in alleged drug money from another undercover officer on Nov. 19, according to Crosby. "Samuels and Keisha Jones, his wife, then traveled from Atlanta to Jamaica, where Samuels and Jones delivered the money to Jamaican undercover police officers," Crosby wrote. "While in Atlanta's airport, Samuels unlawfully used his badge to bypass security and avoid being screened."
Samuels is also charged with accepting five firearms, and approximately $20,000 in alleged drug money from an undercover police officer on Nov. 30. The indictment alleges that Samuels, on several occasions, illegally used his access to government computers, to determine whether he or his associates were being investigated by federal authorities, according to Crosby.
"Samuels allegedly ran a computer check on an individual involved in a separate drug investigation, named Jerome Bushay," the office said. Bushay and another individual, Fnu Lnu, also known as "Otis," age and place of residence unknown, were under federal investigation beginning in November, for their alleged involvement in trafficking ecstasy and marijuana in the metropolitan Atlanta area and other locations, Crosby wrote.
"Bushay and Otis allegedly used several distributors, brokers, and couriers to facilitate their drug distribution," according to Crosby. "These individuals then distributed the drugs to various individuals throughout the United States. On Oct. 1, pursuant to a search warrant, law enforcement officers seized approximately 700,000 tablets of ecstasy in one of the largest domestic seizures ... in U.S. history.
"Agents found the pills hidden in various places throughout the house, including in the insulation of the walls and in a crawl space near a bedroom," Crosby said. "The street value of the ecstasy is estimated at $2.8 million."
A separate federal indictment, also unsealed Thursday, charges Samuels, and two others, with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and making false statements on immigration documents. His co-defendants on those charges, Crosby wrote, are Carlton Ferguson, 35, and Dahlia McLaren, 29, both of Decatur.
"Beginning in November 2009, and in exchange for a fee, Samuels allegedly used his knowledge of immigration practices to assist Carlton Ferguson and Dahlia McLaren, in deceiving U.S. immigration authorities into believing that [their] sham marriage was genuine," Crosby wrote. "Further investigation revealed that Ferguson and McLaren married simply so that McLaren could obtain United States citizenship. The indictment alleges that Samuels was paid at least $500 for his assistance in that scheme."
David P. D'Amato, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility for the Southeast, said the case reflects "outstanding law enforcement cooperation," which revealed the unlawful acts of a CBP officer.
"The law enforcement community here in Atlanta and around the country are committed to weeding out those, whose acts tarnish the image of the many officers and agents who work tirelessly to keep our communities and country safe," D'Amato said.
Others indicted in the case are charged with conspiracy to traffic ecstasy and marijuana, and firearms violations. They are: Christopher Dixon, 37, of Lithonia; Roshaun Hood, 29, of Atlanta; Curtis Hernandez, 38, of Decatur; Nigel Edwards, 33, of Stone Mountain; Jermaine Campbell, 30, of DeKalb County; Ricardo Duncan, 27, of Lithonia; Dave Grant, age unknown, of Lithonia; Christopher Williams, 33, of Snellville; and Damien Aarons, 35, of Covington.