|Baker County men among nine facing federal drug conspiracy charges|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Wednesday, 16 November 2011 16:01|
Two Baker County men face federal drug charges related to cocaine trafficking across state lines.
John Christopher Townsend, 39, who served time in prison in a previous drug case, and Doyle Hardenbrook, 44, were among nine suspects from Texas, Georgia and Florida charged with conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.
The charges come as a result of a year-long investigation by the Jacksonville DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] task force that originated with Baker County Sheriff's Office Investigator Randy Crews, a member of the task force.
Sheriff Joey Dobson and Inv. Crews were joined by the DEA's Assistant Special Agent in Charge Cam Strahm and Robert E. O'Neill, US Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, for a press conference November 16 announcing that six suspects in the drug ring, including Mr. Townsend, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge.
The investigation spanned April 2010 to April 2011.
Inv. Crews said the case began with information that Mr. Townsend was involved in drug trafficking. That led to what Inv. Crews called "sophisticated surveillance" that directed authorities to other suspects allegedly involved with moving an estimated 160 kilos of cocaine from Mexico to Jacksonville for some $4 million.
Mr. O'Neil said 16 kilos of cocaine, a pound of methamphetamine and more than $600,000 were seized in the investigation.
Mr. Townsend pleaded guilty to an information charging him with conspiracy and was released on bond, while Mr. Hardenbrook has a change of plea hearing set for November 22 on the same charge and is also free on bond, the US Attorney's office said.
They were arrested April 27, 2011.
Another suspect in the case, Alejandro Arreozola-Villareal, 52, of Dallas, Texas remains a fugitive.
The drugs were smuggled in the wheels of a pick-up truck from Texas to Florida for sale in Jacksonville, the US Attorney's press release states.
Sheriff Joey Dobson said the bust is a big one for this area. "To talk about 16 kilos is a lot for Baker County," he said.
A kilo is about the size of a brick.
See next week's edition for more information.
|Last Updated on Monday, 21 November 2011 11:25|