5 people sentenced in massive local drug trafficking conspiracy

Posted at 7:36 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 20:43:15-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Five members of the Peninsula-based narcotics operation Operation Cookout were sentenced over the last two days to a combined 51 years in prison for their respective roles in the conspiracy.

They were also ordered to forfeit more than $2 million for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and cocaine base throughout Hampton Roads.

Authorities described it as one of the largest heroin and fentanyl trafficking rings in the region.

Court documents say Damarcus Mackie, 44, of Mississippi, acquired heroin and fentanyl in kilogram quantities but would sell it, often through runners, in quantities as low as grams. Mackie also pressed heroin and fentanyl into pills to resemble pharmaceutical opioids like Oxycodone, and he distributed large quantities of cocaine and crack cocaine as well.

Five co-conspirators maintained stash houses for Mackie at various times. In addition to those maintaining drug houses for him, Mackie directed at least four other co-conspirators in their drug acquiring and distribution activities.

As part of his sentencing, Mackie was ordered to forfeit a money judgment of $1,314,120. Mackie also forfeited a Mercedes sedan as part of this case.

Marcid V. Byrd, 36, of Hampton, acquired cocaine in multi-kilogram quantities and sold cocaine by the ounce, the half-kilogram and even by the kilogram. Byrd used a residence in Hampton to distribute cocaine to his co-conspirators, at least six of whom he supervised.

On one occasion, records say Byrd demanded that one of his co-conspirators pay his drug debt to Byrd with a Draco firearm. When Byrd’s cocaine source dried up, Byrd tried to pool his money with Damarcus Mackie to obtain cocaine from Mackie’s source.

As part of his sentencing, Byrd was ordered to forfeit a monetary judgment of $845,875, real property located in Hampton, and a 2016 BMW I8 valued at over $100,000.

Symphoni Wiggins, 39, of Hampton, reportedly allowed Mackie to use her home as a stash house to store heroin and fentanyl. At Mackie’s direction, Wiggins would mix and prepare heroin and fentanyl with cutting agents and package it for distribution.

At times, documents say Wiggins would prepare over fifty grams of heroin/fentanyl a day for distribution through Mackie and his drug runners. Wiggins referred to herself as “the master mixer.”

Clarence Ford, 28, of Hampton, assisted Marcid Byrd with the distribution of cocaine and the collection and remission of drug proceeds. In addition to collecting cocaine proceeds from Byrd’s co-conspirators, Ford would also help Byrd with his drug trafficking activities by checking for police surveillance.

Jill Hockaday, 54, from New Jersey, bought heroin in gram quantities for both personal use and redistribution. Mackie served as the immediate source, and then later as an indirect source, for Hockaday’s heroin.

These sentences are part of a larger case that is focused on cracking down on the illegal distribution of narcotics throughout Virginia. More than 120 law enforcement officers from 30 law enforcement agencies in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, California and Texas have worked to execute this major operation. In July, eight people pleaded guilty

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) confirmed that the amount of fentanyl that was intercepted was enough to kill 14 million people.

In July, eight people pleaded guilty in connection with Operation Cookout.

To date, 46 people have been charged in this case. Of those, 40 have admitted their criminal conduct and pleaded guilty. Six defendants are currently scheduled for trial.

“Our office will continue to diligently and aggressively prosecute those who distribute these dangerous and deadly substances,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “In addition to seeking the appropriate prison sentence for drug traffickers, our office will ensure that drug traffickers do not get to keep the ill-gotten gains they have made from poisoning the community. I want to thank our fellow federal, state, and local law enforcement partners for their coordinated work in Operation Cookout, which has led to apprehending these individuals and stopping the spread of dangerous substances.”

This case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Operation Cookout.

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