Today a federal jury convicted two local Panama City residents of conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than five (5) kilograms of cocaine. The verdict was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. The evidence presented proved that the conspiracy operated as follows:
Christopher Mathis, 36, also known as "Monk" or "Monkey Man," and Willie James Morgan, 34, also known as "Weazel" or "Wezzie," both from Panama City, were involved in a conspiracy that distributed over 200 kilograms of cocaine in and around Bay County, Florida, between January 1, 2011, and February 12, 2012.
Following the arrest of Yamura Hudson in December 2010, Freddie Lee Christopher Knowles IV became a large-scale cocaine supplier in the Panama City, Bay County area, obtaining approximately four kilograms of cocaine per week from his Texas source of supply, Kelvin Rucker. Knowles paid between $33,000 and $39,000 per kilogram of cocaine that he obtained from Rucker. Knowles and his girlfriend, Candis Marshae Walker, traveled to Mississippi to pick up the cocaine and delivered money to couriers working for Rucker. One such courier was David Isaac Rucker, the half-brother of Kelvin Rucker and a co-defendant in this case. Upon his return to Panama City, Knowles would break down the cocaine into smaller distributable quantities, and Walker would deliver it to Knowles's local Panama City distributors, including Mathis, Morgan, John Jerome Fagin, Willie Lamar Potter, Vincent M. Brown, Jimmie Lee Aikens, Jr., Jason Apollo Broxton, Troy Anthony Coleman, and Tommy Chin Van Duong.
Several witnesses testified that between January 2011 and the summer of 2011, Mathis indirectly purchased ounce quantities of cocaine indirectly from Knowles, through a middle man. Subsequently, in August or September 2011, Mathis began purchasing cocaine directly from Knowles. Witness testimony and evidence established that Morgan received approximately nine (9) ounces of cocaine on a weekly basis beginning in January 2011 and continuing through
Knowles' arrest on February 12, 2012. In addition to the conspiracy charge, Morgan was also found guilty of being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
As a result of the guilty verdicts on the conspiracy charge, Mathis and Morgan each face a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years to life in prison, a fine of up to $20,000,000, and not less than 10 years of supervised release. Morgan also faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to 3 years of supervised release on his felon in possession charge.
Twelve individuals were indicted in this conspiracy and, at the time of Mathis's and Morgan's trial, all of the charged co-defendants had pled guilty to their respective charges. Sentencings for all twelve defendants will now be scheduled before United States District Judge Richard Smoak.
Over the course of this investigation, law enforcement seized the following: approximately 8 kilograms of cocaine and crack cocaine, over $300,000 in United States currency, 9 vehicles, 1 assault rifle, 10 handguns, and a bullet proof vest.
The guilty verdicts result from an investigation by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration offices in Panama City and Jackson, Mississippi, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Panama City Police Department, the Bay County Sheriff's Office, and the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Risinger prosecuted the case.
Information provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office