U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Michigan
(616) 456-2404
August 24, 2015

Federal Court Sentences Benton Harbor Heroin Trafficker Joseph Jackson to 204 Months in Prison

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles announced today that Joseph Jackson, aka “Jo Jo,” the lead defendant of a nine defendant heroin distribution conspiracy centered in Benton Harbor, Michigan, was sentenced to 204 months (17 years) in prison. All nine defendants have been charged, convicted and sentenced in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The Honorable Gordon J. Quist sentenced Jackson to also serve ten years of supervised release following his return to society from prison. Judge Quist noted that Jackson was “a major supplier of heroin in Benton Harbor,” and lamented the severe effect heroin was having in Michigan and throughout the country. “Heroin leads to death,” Judge Quist said.

U.S. Attorney Miles announced the sentence as the result of a joint investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. The investigation initially focused on two of the alleged conspiracy members and ultimately resulted in the charging of nine conspirators and the seizure of approximately 100 grams of heroin, several medical-grade fentanyl patches, a small amount of crack cocaine, and approximately $27,000 in alleged drug proceeds.

According to a 100-page affidavit filed in support of the federal arrests and search warrants in the case, the investigation revealed that Jackson lead a drug trafficking organization responsible for distributing between 50 and 65 grams of heroin per week in Benton Harbor from 2013 to the date of his arrest. Jackson, 44, of Benton Harbor, also known as “Jo Jo,” assigned responsibility for heroin acquisition and distribution to other individuals. As relayed in the complaint, Jackson acquired his heroin in Chicago, and then recruited others to transport it to Benton Harbor for him. Once in Benton Harbor, Jackson tasked others with the heroin’s storage and further distribution.

All nine defendants now have been sentenced. On June 11, 2015, the District Court sentenced Jacoby Ervin to 132 months’ imprisonment, Javel McElrath to 110 months’ imprisonment, and Antwon Peterson to 27 months’ imprisonment. On July 14, 2015, the Court sentenced Omar Osorio to 21 months’ imprisonment. On August 20, 2015, the Court sentenced Willie Tibbs Jackson to 54 months’ imprisonment, Johnny Green to 7 months’ imprisonment, followed by 5 months’ home confinement, Kyeisha Bennett, a courier for Jackson, to 1 day in custody and two years’ supervised release, and Tanisha Swift, another courier, to 68 days’ time served, to be followed by 4 months’ home confinement.

“This investigation is a prime example of the benefits of coordinated law enforcement efforts to root out organized drug trafficking in our district. The extraordinary cooperation among the DEA, FBI, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Berrien County Prosecuting Attorney’s office and Michigan State Police made these charges possible,” said U.S. Attorney Miles. “Heroin remains a plague upon our society. My office will continue to seek appropriate penalties for those who would profit from it,” he said.

U.S. Attorney Miles announced these sentences with Joseph P. Reagan, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Detroit Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office, Paul Bailey, Sheriff of Berrien County, and Michael J. Sepic, Berrien County Prosecuting Attorney.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen P. Baker represented the United States in the case.

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