HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Four defendants who participated a multistate drug ring were sentenced to federal prison today, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Atari Seantay Brown, 39, of Detroit, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison for distribution of heroin. Sean Lee Braggs, 27, of Dearborn, Michigan, was sentenced to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin. Deandra Sheen Jones, 42, of Farmington Hills, Michigan, was sentenced to a year and three months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin and crack. Samuel E. Nelson, III, 37, of Louisville, was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute heroin.
From the summer of 2014 to May 2016, Brown admitted that he helped lead a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of drugs in the Huntington area. During the conspiracy, Brown arranged for the transportation of large quantities heroin and cocaine from Michigan to the Huntington area. Agents were able to make numerous controlled purchases of heroin from Brown and others during the investigation. On September 2, 2016, a confidential informant working at the direction of the Drug Enforcement Administration contacted Brown to arrange for the purchase of heroin. Brown met with the informant at an apartment located at 333 14th Street in Huntington that the group used to store and distribute drugs. Inside the apartment, Brown sold approximately 10 grams of heroin to the informant in exchange for $1,200. Brown also admitted that he possessed firearms during the conspiracy, that he maintained the 14th Street apartment to distribute drugs, and that he served as a leader of the conspiracy.
Braggs admitted that he assisted Brown and others by distributing heroin in the Huntington area, by transporting drugs from Michigan to Huntington, and by transporting money from Huntington to Michigan. On April 18, 2016, Braggs was traveling from Huntington to Michigan when his vehicle broke down in Ohio. Brown arranged for a tow truck to get the vehicle to Michigan. Agents surveilling Brown and Braggs contacted members of the Ohio Highway Patrol and a trooper subsequently conducted a traffic stop of the tow truck in northern Ohio. Agents discovered that Braggs’ vehicle contained a hidden compartment behind the rear seat that concealed $181,490 in cash. Braggs admitted that the hidden cash constituted proceeds from drug sales in the Huntington area.
Jones admitted that she assisted Brown by transporting cocaine from Michigan that was concealed in a rental vehicle. Jones also transported cash from Huntington to Michigan and helped Brown acquire additional heroin in Michigan. On March 26, 2016, Jones arranged for Brown to receive approximately 100 grams of heroin that Brown distributed to Nelson. On April 30, 2016, Jones transported approximately one kilogram of cocaine to Huntington at Brown’s direction. The cocaine was concealed in the spare tire of a rental vehicle Jones was driving. Jones admitted she was aware that Brown intended to convert the cocaine into crack for distribution.
Nelson admitted that he acquired large quantities of heroin from Brown and transported the drugs to the Louisville area for distribution. On April 18, 2016, Nelson traveled from Louisville to acquire heroin from Brown at the 14th Street apartment in Huntington. A trooper with the West Virginia State Police subsequently conducted a traffic stop of Nelson’s vehicle as he traveled toward Interstate 64 to return to Louisville. Law enforcement searched Nelson’s vehicle and discovered approximately 130 grams of heroin concealed in the dashboard.
On May 18, 2016, after a federal grand jury returned an indictment, agents executed arrest warrants and search warrants at eight locations, including residences in Detroit, Proctorville, Ohio, and Huntington. During the searches, agents seized large quantities of heroin, cocaine, crack, and marijuana, as well as an additional $120,531 in cash and 41 firearms.
These prosecutions arose out of a long-term investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the West Virginia State Police, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, the Huntington Police Department, the Huntington FBI Drug Task Force, the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
In addition to Brown, Braggs, Jones, and Nelson, six other defendants were convicted for their roles in this drug ring. Corey Bruce Toney was sentenced to 10 years and three months in federal prison, Arthur James Canada was sentenced to three years and 10 months in federal prison, Matthew Michael Meadows and Tanisha Lynette Wooding were each sentenced to a year and a half in federal prison, and Parker Wyatt Mays and Roy Bills were each sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for their respective roles in the conspiracy.
Assistant United States Attorney Joseph F. Adams handled the prosecutions. Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers imposed the sentences and presided over these cases.
These cases were prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.