A federal prosecutor said at least four people from the metro-east are expected to be sentenced in connection with a drug bust one year ago designed to combat heroin and opioid use and overdoses.
Authorities in 2015 had named 35 people suspected of using or dealing heroin as well as other drug-related charges. One year later between St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties, seven of them have been sentenced to prison, nine were given probation and about a dozen still have cases pending. But more were expected to be prosecuted federally.
U.S. Attorney Donald Boyce, of the Southern District of Illinois, said those cases are being resolved as part of the initiative. Jovon C. Dolly, Urechan D. Brown, Kelvin B. Hughes and Brandy Anderson were all apprehended by police as part of the drug bust. All of them have pleaded guilty to their charges, Boyce said.
Dolly, Brown and Anderson have been held in jail without bond since they were arrested last year. Hughes was sentenced to five years in prison on Sept. 8. The four faced federal charges.
Boyce said last year’s drug sweep was part of “a multi-pronged strategy” to fight what metro-east authorities described as a heroin and opioid epidemic. Enforcement is a part of that strategy developed by the U.S. Department of Justice, along with prevention and treatment. Boyce said the U.S. Attorney’s Office works to promote enforcement, prevention and treatment in partnership with the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois, which is a regional drug task force, and the prosecutors in St. Clair and Madison counties.
“Last year’s heroin initiative was a great example of these partnerships in action. Through enforcement action, the operations of multiple heroin dealers were shut down, and the most serious among them face significant federal sentences,” Boyce said. “Enforcement actions continue at both the state and federal level in an attempt to disrupt significant heroin suppliers.”
Dolly, 37, also known as “Twin,” pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin and methamphetamine and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm — including a .44-caliber revolver and a 12-gauge shotgun. The East St. Louis man was being held Friday in the St. Clair County Jail and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5.
According to court documents, Dolly sold about 1 gram of heroin to a police informant for $40 on two occasions in March 2015. Later that month, authorities said Dolly sold less than 1 gram of methamphetamine to another police informant for $100. Two days later, police obtained a search warrant for a home Dolly had been using to sell drugs located at 664 N. 61st St. in East St. Louis. Court documents said police seized two guns that Dolly said he used “for protection.” He had been previously convicted on a felony theft charge in 1997.
Brown, 39, who is also known as “Pig,” was arrested after selling 1.2 grams of heroin to a police informant in East St. Louis and after police seized 3 grams of heroin from a “stash house” he had been using to store the drug. Brown told police in an interview that he had been distributing heroin since 2013 up until his arrest in August 2015. He pleaded guilty to three charges related to distributing heroin in June. Brown is expected to be sentenced on Oct. 14.
Hughes, a co-defendant, was identified as Brown’s nephew in court documents. Brown said he supplied Hughes, 30, with heroin for resale for about two years. Hughes said in a police interview that he had been selling heroin on a daily basis. Hughes was arrested after he sold heroin to a police informant in East St. Louis last year. He was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to selling more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of heroin in East St. Louis from 2013 to August 2015.
A fourth person was arrested on his birthday last November in East St. Louis when he was found sleeping in a car with a bag of heroin and a stolen handgun. Court records said Brandy C. Anderson, also known as “Boom Boom,” admitted to police that he intended to sell heroin and had been selling “a half ounce of heroin a day” for about nine months. The 32-year-old pleaded guilty in June to charges of possession with intent to deliver heroin and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Anderson remains jailed and is set to be sentenced on Oct. 7.
Heroin, opioid documentary screening in Collinsville
Boyce said his office will be holding an event with Partnership for Drug-Free Communities in the metro-east on Wednesday as part of National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week, which was recognized by the DOJ.
Two event offerings are scheduled on the same day with the first set from 9 a.m. to noon and the second set from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Gateway Center in Collinsville.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is inviting community members, including medical professionals, law enforcement officers and civic leaders, to watch a screening of “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict,” a documentary released in a joint effort by the FBI and DEA. A panel discussion is set to take place after the screening.
Dr. Bob Twillman, executive director for the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, is expected to serve as a keynote speaker. Other panel speakers include Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Hoell, and St. Clair County First Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Piper and other community leaders.
Boyce said enforcing the country’s drug laws are part of the strategy, which is why his office is holding Wednesday’s program. Education, he says, and “prevention efforts,” such as the DEA’s drug take-back program, are “central components of the strategy” to reversing heroin and opioid use.
“The DOJ also supports treatment programs for low-level, non-violent offenders who have become addicted to these terrible drugs,” Boyce said. “Successes in combating the opioid epidemic will be incremental, and our efforts will continue because finding solutions to the problems of opioid addiction are critical to the health and safety of our community.”
Wednesday’s program is free and open to the public. Viewer discretion is advised for those who will be watching the documentary.
Online registration is available at www.cometogetherforchange.eventbrite.com.
Want to go?
▪ What: Come Together for Change: Stop Heroin, Stop Opioids, Save Lives
▪ Who: Hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois and Partnership for Drug-Free Communities
▪ When: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday
▪ Where: Gateway Center at 1 Gateway Drive in Collinsville
▪ The event is open to the public.