By David Howell
A Coffeeville man and a Panola County man were arrested last Tuesday in what is described by Yalobusha County Sheriff Lance Humphreys as “one of the largest drug rings in the state.”
Lonzo Lezell Griffin of Courtland and Cypress, Texas; and Michael Allen, of 80 Vaughn St., Coffeeville, were both arrested in Grenada on Tuesday, Nov. 16, on federal and state charges. More than two dozen additional arrests were made in different locations across Mississippi. Charges range from simple possession to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana to a felon possessing a firearm, as well as federal charges, according to a press release from the Mississippi Department of Safety.
The arrests come after the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the United State Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “have been investigating a large-scale cocaine and marijuana distribution organization led by Griffin and Allen,” according to the Nov. 12 affidavit filed in federal court.
Humphreys explained the investigation started more than a year ago, and his department and the Coffeeville Police Depart-ment became involved in the investigation several months ago, after a house on County Road 227, outside Coffeeville, was identified as a stash house used by Allen and Griffin.
“Allen is from Coffeeville, and it appears that he moved from Batesville back here around July,” Humphreys explained.
Griffin allegedly organized and led the organization’s cocaine and marijuana and money laundering operation, according to court documents. He would obtain the drugs in Texas, reportedly from a Mexican source, and bring it to Mississippi using carriers.
The organization was responsible for transporting and distributing approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine and in excess of 500 pounds of marijuana into the state each month, according to a press release from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
Both Griffin and Allen would supply large quantities of cocaine and marijuana to to a number of distributors scattered across the state.
Humphreys reported that in recent months, much of the drugs would first come from Texas to the stash house on County Road 227.
One example, cited in the Nov. 12 affidavit, charge that Everlyn McKinney and Chrystal Mosey transported over four kilograms of cocaine and 200 pounds of cocaine to Deshon Polk’s house on County Road 227 on Nov. 2.
The Take Down
Officers with the Coffeeville and Water Valley police departments, along with deputies assisted as 19 search warrants were executed simultaneously in Yalobusha County, Panola County, West Point, Tupelo, the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Texas last Tuesday.
“We had three search warrants to execute in the county, two on County Road 227 and one on Vaughn Street in Coffeeville,” Humphreys reported.
In Yalobusha, four cars were seized, including a 2008 GMC Denali and a 2006 Ford Mustang, and two stolen vehicles. An undisclosed amount of marijuana, a gun and other items were seized in the county.
In neighboring Panola County, the Batesville Police Department was also involved, as well as the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“There were a total 12 cars seized in the entire operation,” Humphreys said. Also seized were $351,000 in cash, 349.3 grams of crack cocaine, 1,487 grams of powder cocaine, 50 pounds of marijuana, 14 units of ectascy, 100 ml. of codeine syrup and 19 guns in the entire operation, according to Humphreys.
Humphreys said that both Griffin and Allen were arrested in Grenada at separate locations on Nov. 16. Griffin is charged with conspiracy to possess in excess of 500 grams of cocaine. Allen is charged with possession in excess of 500 grams of cocaine.
“This complex investigation was a coordinated effort by MBN, DEA and a coalition of our federal, state and local partners,” said MBN Director Marshall Fisher.
“The successful dismantling of this organization is yet another example of what can be achieved when agencies at all levels work toward a common goal with no regard as to who gets the accolades,” added Joel K. Reese, Assistant Special Agent In Charge, DEA.
Other arrests include:
Shalise Ewing, L.C. Ewing, Tomisha Latric Ford, Corey Allen Shelton, Linda B. Montgomery, all of Tupelo; Jethro Brown, Crystal Mosley, Lashan Ausmer, Jerry Robinson, Randall Galloway and Avana Hawthorne, no address listed; Jamie Bean, Pheba; Derick Patrick, Houston, Miss.; Undrake Lane, Ronnie Bennett and Terry Eving, West Point; Michael Coats, Louisville; Jeremiah Starks, Mantee; Shantana Joiner, Batesville; Bobby Joe Eggleston, Courtland; Roy Dale Ross and Staci Wakia Moore, Shannon; and Clemeko Dwayne Starks, Sardis.