10 admit to roles in Beaumont drug ring

10 admit to roles in Beaumont drug ring

Rather than face life in prison at the hands of a jury, six men charged with participating in a massive Beaumont-based drug trafficking conspiracy pleaded guilty on Aug. 14 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin. Four other co-defendants have already pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. One material witness was not charged, and records to their identity are sealed.

All repeat offenders, the last six members of the long-term drug conspiracy could still face life in prison at sentencing, but, at minimum, each will serve 10 years behind bars, according to federal statutes. Eric Paul Coleman, 32; Clayton Devonne Howard, 41; Jason Wright, 32; Leroy Hills, 33; and Arthur Jenkins, 46; all of Beaumont, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Eric Coleman, the alleged ringleader, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, and use of fire to commit a federal felony, namely aiding and abetting. Jenkins also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to carry a firearm during a drug trafficking offense. Ivy Chatman, 31, of Beaumont, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use fire to commit a federal felony, like Coleman, aiding and abetting.

Eric Coleman’s mother, Minnie Coleman, 56, admitted her role in the drug trafficking scheme on June 26, pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine and conspiracy to launder money. Federal statutes mandate that she spend at least 10 years in prison for the crimes, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office Public Information Officer Davilyn Walston. Patrice Stoker, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, was sentenced to 63 months in prison on June 14. She was also ordered to forfeit $50,000 in cash proceeds from the illegal activity she was involved in. Jordan Marshall, who entered a plea of not guilty on July 17, was given a sealed plea agreement on Aug. 6. Christopher Dudley entered into a sealed plea agreement on June 29, formally accepted by the judge on July 23, and was ordered to forfeit $120,000 in cash already in possession of the court.

During the plea hearings conducted last week, Eric Coleman admitted the prosecution could prove that, “since at least December 2012, (he) had supervised, managed and controlled a drug trafficking organization that distributed and manufactured cocaine base a.k.a. crack cocaine in the Beaumont, Texas, area,” as well as distributing liquid cocaine base that he received from a supplier in Houston.

To assure that business stayed booming at “The Field” house Eric Coleman kept on Lawrence Drive, his mother’s home on Paris Street, and another “crack house” on Stanford Drive in Beaumont, he was willing to take his co-conspirators into battle – ordering “hits” on rivals and bad customers.

Eric Coleman agreed as fact that he “told Leroy Hills that he had a Kel-Tec firearm that Leroy Hills could use to respond to (an) assault. Leroy Hills declined and said he had .40-caliber weapon of his own.” The Kel-Tec Coleman referenced in his conversation with Hills was later found when police searched the drug dealer’s white BMW. Hills wasn’t Coleman’s only “hitter,” though, as the conspiracy leader also commissioned Arthur Jenkins for violence. Coleman agreed that he told Jenkins “to put someone on their [rear end].” To which Jenkins responds, he was “strapped and ready.”

Jenkins alleged Coleman asked him to do more than put someone on the ground. According to his agreed facts and stipulations, Coleman asked Jenkins to put someone under the ground, as well.

“Nov. 28, 2017, Eric Paul Coleman called Arthur Jenkins to request Arthur Jenkins murder an unknown individual,” Jenkins’ plea agreement filings read. “Arthur Jenkins initially thought the call was about a drug delivery but Eric Paul Coleman told Arthur Jenkins that it was other work and he was willing to pay $2,000. Arthur Jenkins asked Eric Paul Coleman, ‘You want them dead?’ Eric Paul Coleman said, ‘Yes.’ 

“Later in the phone call, Eric Paul Coleman gave specific instructions about how he wanted the murder to proceed: Eric Paul Coleman said he would provide Arthur Jenkins with a car and told Arthur Jenkins to shoot the victims through the side of the victims’ car and not through the front in case the victims ducked during the shooting.”

Hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as a cache of firearms and ammunition was funneled through the 10-person conspiracy, with every actor securing their own role in the scheme, according to the government’s charges. Dudley and Howard trafficked the dope. Minnie Coleman and Stoker washed the money. Marshall, Hills, and Jenkins protected the territory. Chatman and Wright distributed the goods. Eric Coleman pulled it all together.

“These were major players in the drug world in Southeast Texas,” said Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “This was a violent group, and it is good to get them off the street. We appreciate the cooperation from all of the local and state partners that helped make this case.”

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Beaumont Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Beaumont Fire Department, the Baytown Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher T. Rapp under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) as a joint investigation.  

“The investigation and conviction of these individuals is a great example of what can occur when local and federal law enforcement agencies work together to combat major drug trafficking and violent crimes,” said Beaumont Police Chief James Singletary.  “Some of these individuals were the most dangerous narcotic traffickers we had in Beaumont and in the surrounding areas. The Beaumont Police Department is proud of its relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas and all of the federal agencies we work with on a daily basis.”