Marlon “Jazz” Taylor, 34, has been sentenced to life in prison on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine, according to U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant.
This is the first sentencing in a case involving multiple defendants including Nicholas Rodgers, Tarus Taylor, Elizabeth Espey, Terry Weathers, Richie Henderson, Derrick Howard, Duane Smith and Bobby Joe Kemp, Jr. on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
According to information presented in court, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), 24th Judicial District Drug Task Force (JDDTF) and Carroll County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into Taylor in late 2016. Agents discovered that he and other co-conspirators were trafficking in methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana from California and Georgia. Investigators used multiple investigation techniques to dismantle this drug trafficking organization to include surveillance, confidential sources, traffic stops, and search warrants.
USPIS and the JDDTF intercepted a package mailed from California to an address in McKenzie. A federal search warrant was executed on the package, which contained approximately 893 grams of actual methamphetamine, with a purity level of 91%, and 1,810 grams of marijuana. In October 2017, the USPS discovered similar shipments from California to a residence in Trezevant. Surveillance of the residence revealed that after the packages were delivered to the residence, they would be delivered to Taylor’s residence in McKenzie.
On or about April 2018, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office deputies obtained an arrest warrant for Taylor. Pursuant to the warrant, deputies conducted a parole search at his residence and found multiple firearms in the bedroom. Also found was approximately 4.5 pounds of marijuana, $14,000 in U.S. currency and multiple cell phones. A search of the cell phones revealed multiple text messages between Jazz and co-defendants, detailing drug and money transactions. As a result, FBI agents traveled to California and executed a search warrant on the drug trafficking organization’s source of supply.
On April 10, 2019, Jazz pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
During the sentencing hearing, the United States put on multiple co-defendants who testified about their involvement in the drug conspiracy, including the drug amounts that were being obtained on behalf of Taylor. The total amount of actual methamphetamine obtained during this drug conspiracy was approximately 7 ½ kilograms of actual methamphetamine, 963.8 grams of cocaine and 12,922.7 grams of marijuana. Taylor was found to be the leader or organizer of the organization involving five or more participants. His sentence was also enhanced because firearms were present and for maintaining a stash house.
Also, during the sentencing hearing the United States showed evidence that Taylor attempted to influence the testimony of a co-defendant by sending a note to falsely claim that he had no involvement with methamphetamine. He was found to have attempted to obstruct justice based on this conduct.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: “Drug trafficking offenses are at the root of some of the gravest problems facing our country. The ‘fruit’ of the drug plague is everywhere; it fills our jails, our courts, our streets, and our nurseries. Accordingly, given that drug dealers themselves sentence many individuals to a lifetime of addiction and dependency, a life sentence for repeatedly dealing large quantities of dangerous drugs is a just and proper punishment in this case. Criminal enterprises that distribute harmful drugs into our rural communities can no longer hide, and this maximum sentence demonstrates our ability to dismantle their organizations.”
“Drug dealers are committed to poisoning our neighborhoods with narcotics, but this sentencing should demonstrate that law enforcement has an even greater commitment to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations,” said M.A. Myers, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “This sentence should cause drug traffickers to truly rethink their chosen path, because the FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to eliminate these criminal enterprises and lock them up.”
“The war on drugs has been an on-going and hard fought battle for law enforcement” stated David M. McGinnis, Inspector in Charge, Charlotte Division. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service aggressively investigates cases involving the misuse of the U.S. mail system by criminals who traffic illegal contraband such as narcotics. I fully commend the hard work and countless hours put forth by all of the law enforcement agencies involved, which resulted bringing this individual to justice.”
Carroll County Sheriff Andy Dickson said: “I would like to begin by taking this opportunity to thank U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant and his staff of attorneys, especially Jerry Kitchen, who without their tireless work this operation would not have been possible. I would also like to thank all of the agencies that played a part in this intensive drug operation to include the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, 24th Judicial District Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee National Guard Counter Drug Unit and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
“The sentence handed down in this case was just part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the distribution of illegal narcotics that affects Carroll and surrounding counties. Others have already been sentenced involving this case and others await their day in front of a United States Federal Court. I would like for this operation to send notice to others in our jurisdiction that if you continue to attempt to poison our citizens with the illegal substances that you sell that we will be working diligently to build a case against you and others.”
On July 24, 2019, Senior U.S. District Court Judge J. Daniel Breen sentenced Jazz to life in federal prison followed by 5 years supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF is a joint federal, state and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), 24th Judicial District Drug Task Force (JDDTF) and Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Kitchen prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.