JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A joint operation between the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Agency has led to 20 pounds of near-pure crystal methamphetamine tied to Mexican drug cartels being taken off area streets.
Nicholas Paul Mattox, 50, a Jacksonville resident, and Keith Wallace Williams, 61, of Middleburg, both pleaded guilty to related charges earlier this year. Mattox was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and Williams received five years in federal prison. While the sentencing happened months ago, both Clay County and the DEA expanded on their efforts in taking down the ring on Tuesday, driving home just how important the impact was.
Clay County sheriff Michelle Cook commended the work done by investigators to follow this through to the end and lauded the joint effort between her office and federal authorities.
Cook said that her office is grateful to not only the other agencies, but to the individuals who provide law enforcement with tips on what is going on.
“I’m very proud of the team that was able to begin this investigation and work this investigation through and make a solid case which has led to pretty significant prison sentences," she said. "And so for me, it makes me very proud to represent an organization and work in partnership with the DEA. Makes me very proud to be in this profession.”
The DEA began investigating Mattox in May of 2019. He was accused of distributing kilogram-sized quantities of crystal meth in both Clay and Duval counties. Williams, according to the investigation, had purchased drugs from Mattox. His house was searched and officers found more than 200 grams of meth hidden there. A total of $32,200 related to the drugs was seized.
“We learned of one of these individuals as a major meth dealer here in the area," said DEA agent Matt Dubet. "We started looking at this person and our investigation not only led us here locally, but outside of the Jacksonville area to Georgia as well as Texas and we were able to link these to individuals to the Sinaloa Cartel based in Mexico.”
The Sinaloa Cartel is the same cartel that was previously run by El Chapo Guzmán, a Mexican drug lord who is serving a life sentence.
Dubet, the assistant special agent in charge for the DEA’s Jacksonville district office, said that the purity of the drugs made it easy to see where they were coming from. Dubet said that the drugs were traced back to the Atlanta area, a major hub for providing the southern part of the country with drugs like meth.
“This particular meth seizure was 98% pure crystal meth,” he said. “That right there in itself is an indicator that this was produced in Mexico in the super labs. The days of people cooking up meth, like Breaking Bad days, in their trailers or something, are over. These are huge labs that the Mexican cartels are using and mass producing very pure meth.”