ATLANTA - Bernard Stokley, a/k/a Big Pat, Tobias Ellison, Alvin Hughley, a/k/a Alvin Beasley, and Vance Hoard, a/k/a Bernard Hoard, a/k/a Vance Holland, all of Atlanta, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin in Atlanta’s English Avenue community. The defendants advertised their heroin on Facebook, and accepted orders through social media including Facebook and Snapchat. Law enforcement learned of their criminal activity from a citizen’s tip to the Atlanta Police Department’s Crime Stoppers tip-line.
“Dismantling this heroin ring illustrates the changing nature of the heroin market in English,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “Where the dealers used to sell openly on every corner, they now have to arrange their sales via phone or social media. And, as demonstrated by the brave citizen who called Crime Stoppers, the residents of English Avenue are no longer willing to tolerate this business in their community, and are empowered to call police to help get rid of it.”
“The successful conviction of these four defendants who were selling poison in the English Avenue community is an excellent example of the success that can be achieved when community members and law enforcement partners work together to identify problems that have a negative impact on our overall quality of life in our community,” said James M. Deir, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, ATF Atlanta Field Division.
“The arrest and conviction of these four illegal drug dealers is proof that citizens and law enforcement can work together to put an end to the heroin epidemic,” said Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. “We know the problem won’t be fixed overnight; however, with the assistance of our state and federal partners we’re providing the resources to rid the English Avenue area of drugs. The citizens are the eyes and ears of the community and with their input we can continue to take criminals off the streets and vigorously work to redevelop the historic community.”
“These convictions illustrate that drug trafficking at any level will not be tolerated in the state of Georgia. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is fully committed to working with our local and federal partners in combating the heroin epidemic,” said Vernon Keenan, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: On May 23, 2016, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) received a tip through its Crime Stoppers tip-line that an individual going by the alias of “Big Pat” – later identified by law enforcement as Bernard Stokley – was advertising drugs for sale, including heroin on Facebook. It was reported that Stokley was even offering “specials of the day” on illegal drugs. APD shared the tip-line information with the ATF, which together with APD validated the tip.
ATF, working in conjunction with APD, then set up a series of four undercover narcotics purchases from Stokley. Each transaction was arranged using the telephone number on Stokley’s Facebook page and occurred in the English Avenue community. On each occasion, Bernard Stokley was present, but he always sent a runner – Tobias Ellison, Alvin Hughley, or Vance Hoard – with the heroin to complete the hand-to-hand transaction.
Bernard Stokley, a/k/a Big Pat, 27, Tobias Ellison, 28, Alvin Hughley, a/k/a Alvin Beasley, 54, and Vance Hoard, a/k/a Bernard Hoard, a/k/a Vance Holland, 48, all of Atlanta, all pleaded guilty. Sentencings are scheduled for April 20, 2017, at 2:00 p.m., before U.S. District Judge Orinda D. Evans.
This case is being investigated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Atlanta Police Department, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Ryan M. Christian is prosecuting the case.