MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A traffic stop on Interstate 10 in Baldwin County last year turned up cocaine, which spawned an investigation that led to the indictment of 16 people in federal court.
Thirteen of those defendants pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors allege that the organization sold powder and crack cocaine, fentanyl and other drugs in the Mobile area.
The reputed head of the enterprise is a Biloxi resident named Darrin Jamark Southall, a 42-year-old man who served prison time in the early 2000s for a federal drug conviction.
Court records show that an Alabama state trooper in November pulled over a GMC Yukon at the 52-mile marker. Law enforcement officers found two bricks of cocaine wrapped in aluminum foil.
Authorities arrested the driver, Kenneth Daniels. A criminal complaint filed in federal court indicates that investigators concluded that Southall headed the drug ring, referring to cocaine as “pants” in conversations with drug couriers. For instance, when he would direct a courtier to get a “couple pair of pants,” he was referring to 2 kilograms of cocaine, according to the affidavit.
Law enforcement authorities near the Alabama-Mississippi state line in December pulled over a vehicle that had been under surveillance, and found 10 kilograms of cocaine.
The scale of the alleged drug enterprise is evident from the long list of assets prosecutors are asked to be forfeited by the defendants in the case. They include bank accounts totaling almost $2.3 million and assorted jewelry. Prosecutors also are seeking a court order to seize 10 vehicles:
- a 2014 Rolls Royce Wraith.
- a 1985 Buick Regal Grand National.
- a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
- a Buick Wildcat.
- a 2007 Mercedes Benz.
- a 2015 Mercedes CLS400.
- a 1970 Buick Electra.
- a 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe.
- a 1990s Chevrolet Caprice.
- a 197 Chevy Impala.
Of the 16 defendants, 14 now have pleaded not guilty and two await arraignment hearings.