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Posted: April 12, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Drug mailing ring busted

Postal inspector tip began investigation

The Covington-Newton County Special Investigations Unit recently put three people behind bars who were allegedly involved in a local drug smuggling ring that used the mail.

The ring’s operators reportedly used false identities to rent mail boxes at shipping stores in Newton and Rockdale counties and then picked up large packages of marijuana from those boxes, bringing them back to 170 Providence Drive in Covington, according to SIU head Lt. Philip Bradford.

Yvette Daisy Wong, 32, of 170 Providence Drive, Covington, was charged with drug trafficking, nine counts of forgery in the second degree, identity theft, possession of a firearm while trying to commit crimes, financial transaction fraud and has pending charges in other jurisdictions.

 

Steven David Meadows, 38, had a Conyers address listed on his booking report but reportedly lived with Wong. Meadows was charged with drug trafficking, identity theft, financial transaction fraud, and faces charges in other jurisdictions as well.

 

Another defendant, Shamure Stefon English, 38, who was reportedly homeless, was charged with one count of trafficking in illegal drugs and one misdemeanor count of giving a false name to an officer.

 

Wong and English were arrested March 21 while Meadows was picked up and arrested later on March 30. Wong and English were denied bond in Newton County Superior Court and while Meadows has yet to have a bond hearing.

 

The SIU first got wind of the operation around the end of last year, said Bradford. Postal inspectors tipped off the SIU about a package that had been intercepted containing marijuana. The package was addressed to a mail box store on Salem Road in Newton County.

 

Once agents determined the store owner was not involved, they subpoenaed the mail box renter’s information and found that a "Viola Smith," who was actually Yvette Wong, had rented the box using a fake identification card.

 

"We watched them and went into the store and investigated," said Bradford. Agents learned that Wong and Meadows had multiple boxes set up under multiple names in the area.

 

On March 21, the postal inspector notified the SIU that a package was heading to a mail box store on Salem Road. Bradford was able to confirm the package contained marijuana and quickly resealed the package in the back of the store just in the nick of time, as Wong came in to pick up her package in the front of the store.

 

When agents served a search warrant at 170 Providence Drive, they found Wong and English inside and placed the two under arrest. Wong told investigators that Meadows was in New York.

 

Meadows was arrested in Newton County about a week later, on March 31. During that week, he had reported opened more mail boxes with additional false identifications.

 

When agents ran Meadows’ fingerprints, they learned that he had been arrested in New York City for major drug violations and even served a sentence in a correctional facility.

 

"He was deported back to Jamaica and was banned from the country. So of course, here we are today," said Bradford. "He returned and came back in." Meadows faces pending charges from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

 

Wong is also faces charges related to a felony conviction in Florida that occurred about a decade ago. English was reportedly arrested outside of Savannah and was out on bond for trafficking marijuana and fleeing to elude.

 

Altogether, SIU seized about 100 pounds of marijuana in Newton County during the investiation, which has a value of about $1000 a pound, said Bradford. Rockdale County has about 40 more pounds in evidence. Bradford said he believed Wong and Meadows were significant suppliers to the local area.

 

As for using the postal service or mail services to smuggle drugs, Bradford said this was not a new technique.

"They’ve been doing it for a long time, but they try to tweak these methods," he said, explaining that as highway searches and security measures become more effective, the criminals try to find other ways to smuggle drugs.

 

Bradford also noted the case wouldn’t have been possible without the combined efforts of everyone in SIU as well as Rockdale agencies, postal inspectors and authorities and other agencies.

 

"We couldn’t have done one part of it if one person had been out," said Bradford.

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