U.S. Government Concludes Major Public Corruption and Drug Trafficking Operation
ATLANTA—Federal authorities have concluded an extensive public corruption and drug trafficking investigation that spanned over five years and the convictions of a Customs and Border Protection Officer from Atlanta’s airport, a DeKalb County Police Officer, and more than 10 drug traffickers who were responsible for the distribution of approximately 1 million pills of 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) and benzylpiperazine (BZP), a drug similar to ecstasy.
Mark Tomlinson, a/k/a “Supa,” has been sentenced to 16 years in prison, and is the final defendant in this case which involved multiple federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies.
“This case began with a Customs and Border Protection officer taking payoffs to smuggle guns and purported drug money through Atlanta’s airport, and it ended with the dismantling of a large-scale drug trafficking organization and the seizure of hundreds of thousands of ecstasy pills,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn.
Daniel R. Salter, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “Whether the crimes being committed were public corruption, marriage fraud, or drug trafficking, the coordinated law enforcement response demonstrates how spirited law enforcement cooperation on all levels produce fruitful results. I would like to personally thank everyone who worked tirelessly to make this investigation a success.”
The Department Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge James E. Ward said: “Today’s announcement sends a strong message, that we remain committed with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue such complex investigations. We are pleased with the overall outcome of this investigation; and we will remain vigilant in pursuing the prosecution of criminals, who brazenly defy federal law.”
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Beginning in late-2009, numerous federal, state, and international agencies conducted an extensive investigation into a corrupt federal and local law enforcement officer with ties to a major drug trafficking organization. The investigation led to the arrest, indictment, and conviction of more than 15 defendants.
Former Customs and Border Protection Officer Devon Samuels pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder drug money, attempting to bring guns onto an airplane, and conspiring to commit marriage fraud. The charges against Samuels centered around three undercover sting operations during which he smuggled drug money and guns through Hartsfield‑Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
More specifically, on November 3, 2010, an undercover officer (posing as a drug money launderer) gave Samuels approximately $25,000 in money represented to be from the sale of drugs. By unlawfully using his badge to bypass security and avoid screening, Samuels smuggled the money through Atlanta’s airport and onto a plane bound for Jamaica. Once in Jamaica, Samuels delivered the cash to a Jamaican undercover police officer who was posing as an international drug trafficker.
On November 19, 2010, another undercover officer gave Samuels over $50,000 in purported drug money. Samuels took the money, flew from Atlanta to Jamaica, and then delivered the money to Jamaican undercover police officers. While in Atlanta’s airport, Samuels unlawfully used his badge to bypass security and avoid being screened.
Finally, on November 30, 2010, Samuels accepted five firearms and approximately $20,000 in alleged drug money from an undercover police officer. Samuels smuggled the firearms and money into the airport by using his badge to bypass security. Once inside the airport, Samuels gave the firearms and money to a second undercover officer who had explicitly told Samuels that she was going to transport the firearms and money to Arizona for a meeting with members of a Mexican drug cartel.
On June 2, 2011, Devon Samuels, a/k/a “Smokey,” 49, of Stockbridge, Georgia, was sentenced to eight years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Beginning in November 2009, Samuels and his wife Keisha Jones (a former Delta Airlines employee) used Samuels’ intimate knowledge of immigration policies to commit marriage fraud. In that regard, Samuels and Jones taught Carlton Ferguson and Dahlia McLaren how to deceive U.S. immigration authorities into believing that Ferguson and McLaren’s sham marriage was genuine and legitimate. Samuels and Jones were also paid to falsely complete the immigration paperwork necessary for McLaren to obtain United States citizenship through her sham marriage to Ferguson. Samuels, Jones, Ferguson, and McLaren all pleaded guilty to marriage fraud conspiracy charges. After her plea, McLaren was stripped of her U.S. citizenship and removed from the United States to Jamaica.
The following individuals were convicted on the marriage fraud indictment:
- On June 2, 2011, Samuels was sentenced to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
- On June 2, 2011, Keisha Jones, a/k/a Platinum, 34, of Stockbridge, Georgia, was sentenced six months of home confinement, three years of probation, and 150 hours of community service.
- On April 11, 2011, Carlton Ferguson, a/k/a “Fergie,” 39, of Decatur, Georgia, was sentenced to three years of probation and 150 hours of community service.
- On April 11, 2011, Dahlia McLaren, a/k/a “Dahlia McLaren Ferguson,” 34, formerly of Decatur, Georgia, was sentenced to three years of probation and was removed from the United States.
In a parallel investigation beginning in February 2010, law enforcement officers started investigating a major drug trafficking organization operating in the Atlanta-metropolitan area and in other areas across the country. The organization was led by Jerome Bushay, Otis Henry, and Mark Tomlinson.
Otis Henry was a major distributor of BZP (a drug similar to ecstasy) and marijuana who provided pills and marijuana to several lower-level drug dealers. Most notably, on October 1, 2010, law enforcement officers obtained a federal warrant to search Henry’s residence located in DeKalb County, Georgia. Inside the home, officers seized approximately 700,000 tablets of BZP—which was one of the largest domestic seizures of the drug in U.S. history. In particular, officers found the pills hidden all over the house, including in the walls of the house, behind insulation, under seat cushions, in crawl spaces, and stuffed into luggage. Officers also recovered a handgun, two pounds of marijuana, almost $40,000 in cash, and over 150 grams of methamphetamine from Henry’s residence. The street value of the pills was estimated at $2.8 million.
After agents executed the search warrant, Henry fled from authorities and remained on the run for over a year. Ultimately, in January 2012, Henry was arrested in Tampa, Florida. Thereafter, agents searched Henry’s hotel room and recovered four pounds of marijuana and $3,300 in cash.
Jerome Bushay also organized and supplied countless drug transactions sales, in addition to supervising several lower-level drug traffickers. In total, Bushay distributed over 185,000 pills. Bushay also used former Customs and Border Protection Officer Devon Samuels to transport his drug money through the airport. For example, on November 12, 2010, Bushay had Samuels smuggle $40,000 in drug money into Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Inside the airport, Samuels used his badge to bypass airport security, which resulted in the bag not being screened. Thereafter, Samuels gave the bag to Bushay’s associate, who was destined for Texas.
On December 15, 2010, law enforcement officers executed a coordinated take-down. As part of the take-down, agents executed a search warrant on Bushay’s home, where they recovered an arsenal of weapons and cache of drug paraphernalia. Specifically, agents recovered: (1) a Cobra 9mm pistol; (2) a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol; (3) a Bushmaster Assault Rifle; (4) a .22 caliber rifle; (5) a Sturm Ruger Ranch Rifle with a scope; (6) a Glock semi-automatic pistol with a laser sight; (7) a Sten-Type 9mm machine gun; and (8) approximately 700 rounds of ammunition, including ballistic tipped and hollow point rounds. In addition to the weapons, agents found a narcotics ledger, an electronic money counter, two digital scales, and a baseball hat with “Customs and Border Protection” embroidered on it.
Mark Tomlinson also distributed thousands of pills of MDMA and BZP, while simultaneously running Club Intrigue (a nightclub in DeKalb County). In addition, in April 2010, Tomlinson brokered a major marijuana deal, which resulted in the seizure of over $100,000. After law enforcement seized the drug money, Tomlinson and others devised a scheme to make it appear that the money was actually to pay musicians for his nightclub. On December 15, 2010, law enforcement officers searched Tomlinson’s home, where they recovered: (a) a Remington 12 gauge shotgun, (b) a Glock .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun, (c) a Taurus semiautomatic handgun, and (d) a drug ledger. In October 2014, after a one week trial, a federal jury convicted Tomlinson of conspiring to traffic MDMA, BZP, and marijuana.
The following individuals were convicted on the drug trafficking indictment:
- Mark Tomlinson, a/k/a “Supa,” 40, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced to 16 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Jerome Bushay, a/k/a “Romey,” 36, of Norcross, Georgia, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Otis Henry, a/k/a “Wesley Johnson,” 44, of DeKalb County, Georgia, was sentenced to 14 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Conrad Harvey, a/k/a “Fowley,” 45, Snellville, Georgia, was sentenced to 10 years, one month in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
- Roshaun Hood, a/k/a “Shaun,” 33, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to nine years, three months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Dave Grant, a/k/a “David Clarke,” a/k/a “Scratchy,” 39, of Lithonia, Georgia; was sentenced to nine years in prison, followed by six years of supervised release.
- Nigel Edwards, a/k/a “Nigel the Barber,” 37, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced to four years, four months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
- Ricardo Duncan, a/k/a “Ricky,” 32, of Lithonia, Georgia, was sentenced to four years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
- Damien Aarons, a/k/a “Damage,” 39, of Covington, Georgia, was sentenced to three years, nine months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
- Jermaine Campbell, a/k/a “Fatman,” 35, of DeKalb County, Georgia, was sentenced to three years, one month in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
- Christopher Williams, a/k/a “Eric Washington,” “Bobby,” “Beagle,” and “Apachee,” 49, of Snellville, Georgia, was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by one year of supervised release.
During the course of the operation, law enforcement authorities also learned that former DeKalb County Police Officer Donald Bristol abused his law enforcement position to help drug traffickers hide a stolen vehicle; that he unlawfully accessed his police computer; and that he lied to federal agents. More specifically, starting in April 2010, Bristol helped separately-charged defendants Christopher Dixon (currently a fugitive) and Ricardo Duncan hide the fact that the car they were driving was in fact a stolen vehicle. Bristol also misused his access to a sensitive law enforcement database to provide drug traffickers with confidential information, such as whether the drug traffickers had any open warrants. Finally, when questioned about his activities, Bristol made numerous false statements to federal agents.
On October 18, 2011, Bristol, 45, of DeKalb County, Georgia was sentenced to one year and one day of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release.
This case was investigated by the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE); Drug Enforcement Administration; ICE—Office of Professional Responsibility; ICE—Office of Inspector General; ICE—Homeland Security Investigation; Jamaican Constabulary Force—Anti-Corruption Branch; DeKalb County Police Department; Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation; Federal Bureau of Investigation; United States Marshal’s Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and U.S. Department of State—Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey W. Davis, L. Skye Davis, and Dahil Goss prosecuted the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following website: www.justthinktwice.com.