DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Georgia

For Immediate Release

Thursday, June 23, 2016
John A. Horn
, United States Attorney
Contact: Bob Page, PAO

English Avenue Drug Market Intervention Targets Drug Dealer Who Recruited Juveniles Into the Drug Trade

ATLANTA - Tovias Dunton, has been arraigned on federal charges of conspiring to possess heroin with the intent to distribute, distribution of heroin, and using a minor to distribute and attempt to distribute heroin. The defendant was indicted as part of the Drug Market Initiative (DMI), which is an on-going commitment to eradicate the heroin market in the English Avenue neighborhood.

“The cycle of drug trafficking in the English Avenue community is perpetuated by people like Dunton, who allegedly tried to avoid his own prosecution by enlisting minors to traffic heroin,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “We won’t sit on the sidelines when drug dealers attempt to pull the young people in their community into the drug trade.”

“Although we are very pleased with the success of this operation, it highlights the persistence of narcotics trafficking and demonstrates that this type of crime is real and must be continuously battled,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Schmidt, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Atlanta Field Division.

“The arraignment of Tovias Dunton on federal charges related to heroin distribution is a win for the City of Atlanta,” said Chief George N. Turner, Atlanta Police Department. “The cowardly method of using children to commit your crimes shows just how far a criminal will go to carry out his deeds. We will remain committed to working with our federal partners to protect our youth from every type of threat.”

“This indictment illustrates that drug trafficking at any level will not be tolerated in the state of Georgia. It is paramount that violators of drug laws and criminals that utilize juveniles to distribute drugs be held accountable. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is fully committed to working with our local and federal partners in drug enforcement to address these types of crimes,” said Vernon Keenan, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: Dunton’s indictment stems from the latest phase of the DMI investigation of drug trafficking in the English Avenue community. Dunton was identified by law enforcement as a heroin seller in the English Avenue community when he allegedly conducted a hand-to-hand transaction with a confidential informant in February 2016. Beginning that same month, Dunton allegedly conspired with a 15-year old boy and others to possess heroin with the intent to distribute. On two separate occasions in April and May 2016, Dunton allegedly used the minor distribute and attempt to distribute heroin.

Tovias Dunton, 37, of Atlanta, Georgia, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 14, 2016, and was arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Catherine M. Salinas.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Atlanta Police Department, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Hartigan is prosecuting the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.com.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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Field Division: Atlanta Field Division