A man who struck a deal to swap nine kilos of meth and $56,000 for five kilos of cocaine made the arrangement with an undercover agent, a criminal complaint says.
The deal Keon Hawkins arranged at a Gulfport casino led to a shipment of crystal meth and his arrest with two other men, a Homeland Security Investigations agent said in his affidavit.
Hawkins, 36, of Bay St. Louis, and Michael Denham II, 31, of Waveland are held for federal marshals along with Sean Ufland, 28, of North Bergen, New Jersey. A magistrate judge ordered the complaint turned over to a grand jury Wednesday.
They were jailed early Sunday after an investigation that began in January. That’s when federal agents began hearing that Hawkins was looking for a cocaine supplier, the HSI agent said.
An undercover Drug Administration Enforcement Task Force agent met with Hawkins on July 13 at the Island View Casino Resort and told him he was looking for cocaine, according to the agent’s sworn statement.
Feds tell how deal was set up
They reportedly negotiated and came up with a price of $28,000 per kilo. Hawkins wanted five kilos but could afford only two at a price of $56,000. He offered to obtain nine kilos of crystal meth or ice, meth’s purest form, to exchange for the other three kilos of cocaine. Hawkins estimated the meth would be valued at $9,000 per pound for a total value of $81,000, the document said.
They went outside the casino and an undercover Gulfport police officer opened the trunk of a vehicle and showed what appeared to be five kilos of cocaine available for sale.
Denham reportedly introduced Hawkins to Ufland, who brokered the meth deal in Oakland, California.
Ufland told investigators Denham bought him an airline ticket and he and Hawkins flew to Oakland to arrange the meth deal, the agent said. Hawkins told the undercover agent he had obtained the “highest grade” of meth and said it would be shipped to Gulfport, arriving in two days.
Ufland also reportedly said Denham picked them up at the New Orleans airport and took them to the Home 2 Suites in Gulfport, where Ufland said he waited while Hawkins went to out to finish the drug deal.
Deal ended with arrests
On Saturday, agents watching the hotel saw Hawkins leave with a large orange-colored bag in a blue Chevrolet Avalanche driven by someone else.
Agents followed them to the Island View Casino and Resort, where Hawkins met with the undercover agent. Hawkins said he didn’t have the money with him, but was waiting on it to arrive.
Hawkins and the agent looked at the contents of the bag in a casino restroom. The bag contained two large containers of meth, the document said.
They went outside the casino, where an undercover Gulfport police officer opened the trunk of a vehicle. Hawkins put the bag in the trunk and the undercover agent handed Hawkins a bag containing what appeared to be cocaine.
Hawkins walked away with the bag, the agent said, and was taken into custody.
Agents followed the Avalanche to Pass Christian, where a police officer stopped the vehicle for traffic violations as part of the investigation. The police officer identified Denham as the driver. Federal agents soon arrested Denham in Waveland. They said they found him with about $5,000.
Denham reportedly told agents he had rented the hotel room and Hawkins asked him for a ride to Island View to meet a cocaine supplier. Denham also said he was aware that Hawkins had a large amount of meth in his bag, but said he didn’t know if Hawkins had a large amount of cash.
Other agents arrested Ufland in the hotel room, where they said they found U.S. Postal Service boxes used to ship the meth.
The HSI agent in charge of the case testified about the allegations Wednesday.
The investigators include officers assigned to the DEA’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.