Included for archive.
Two men in Georgia prisons use cell phones to organize meth trafficking

By Haley Townsend and Michael Oder
Published: July 20, 2015, 3:30 pm Updated: July 20, 2015, 7:56 pm

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Ten people were charged in conspiracy to distribute meth after two “illegal aliens” incarcerated in Georgia prisons reportedly used contraband cell phones to direct at least eight people in the distribution of methamphetamine across four northeast Alabama counties.

A press release from the office of U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said that eight people face a federal indictment that states they conspired to traffic 50 or more grams of methamphetamine in Cleburne, Etowah, Marshall and DeKalb counties from Dec. 2013 through May of 2015.

“This is not one regional crime,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger Stanton said.

“There are others and they are also going to be targeted through the investigative abilities of the Safe Streets Task Force,” he continued.

“The conspiracy charged here was responsible for supplying the intensely addictive and debilitating drug, methamphetamine, in northeast Alabama for at least two years,” Vance said. “Thanks to the many law enforcement agencies that joined together to identify the participants in this organization, including two who were giving orders from within Georgia state prisons, we were able to shut off this illegal supply network. This case exemplifies the mission of the OCDETF Program,” she said.

The release lists the following as being charged in the June indictment:

his sister, JUANNA BALCAZAR, 28, of Boaz,
and RAFAEL JOSE CASTILLO MORALES, 27, of Chattanooga, Tenn., with the 2013-2015 conspiracy.
MELISSA NICASIO, 28, also of Chattanooga, is charged with one count of conspiring with Morales between March and April this year to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine in Etowah and DeKalb Counties.

Reportedly, a ninth individual faces a separate distribution count in the indictment. The 10th defendant, Thomas Watson Smith, 39, of Rome, Ga. was charged this April with one count of possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of meth in August 2014 in Cherokee County according to the press release.. Smith plead guilty June 30, and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 14.

According to the press release, Jose and Juanna Balcazar and Manriquez are Mexican nationals illegally in the United States. Morales is allegedly a Honduran national in the country illegally. Jose Balcazar is currently serving a 30-year sentence in a Georgia state prison for a 2007 methamphetamine trafficking conviction according to the press release, and Manriquez is serving a life sentence in another Georgia prison for a 2003 murder conviction.

“Directing drug transactions from prison through the use of cellphones, that are contraband brought into the prison system, is something that both the Department of Corrections and the FBI are dedicated to addressing,” Stanton said.
The press release states:

Jose Balcazar and Manriquez communicated with each other and with people outside the prison system to carry on the methamphetamine trafficking operation in northeast Alabama, according to testimony last week in federal court in Huntsville during a detention hearing for Morales. Morales, who was living in Chattanooga, was ordered into custody pending trial.