More names added to drug case linked with Old Hawthorne homicide
COLUMBIA - New documents unsealed in federal court Monday identified several more people connected to a drug-related homicide in the Old Hawthorne neighborhood in 2017.
In May, Craig Dewitt Smith, Jr. was indicted in a marijuana trafficking conspiracy. That investigation started after the December 2017 death of Augustus Roberts.
According to a DEA agent's affidavit, "the investigation revealed Roberts was involved in trafficking high-grade marijuana, and was killed during a home invasion where approximately 800 pounds of high-grade marijuana was stolen from a U-Haul truck parked in his driveway."
A new superseding indictment charges Smith with seven criminal counts, including conspiracy to distribute marijuana, distribution of a controlled substance, and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
The new defendants named in the case include:
- Michael John Ricketts, 57
- Eapen George Thampy, 35
- Christopher Michael Bradshaw, 26
- Dylan James Blake, 29
- Blake Jeffrey Johnson, 24
- Tamra Gene Johnson, 50
The indictment alleges the defendants "combined, conspired and agreed with each other...to distribute 1000 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana." It also alleges a conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Smith pleaded not guilty in court on Monday, and has been released from custody.
Court documents said Bradshaw, Blake, Tamra Johnson and Blake Johnson are in federal custody.
Those four suspects were also named in an indictment filed in October 2018 in connection with the investigation into the former owner of Coffee Zone in downtown Columbia. Osama Yanis and his son, Nader Yanis, were charged with trafficking marijuana. Both later pleaded guilty in federal court.
In court documents for the Yanis case, Osama - who was also charged with possession of a gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime - said he kept guns for his own protection following Roberts' death.