Pubdate: Tue, 14 Oct 2003
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Decatur Daily
Author: Chris Paschenko
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


South Florida Lawmen Bust Meth-Trafficking Ring

A Decatur man was buried today and his girlfriend remained in a Miami
hospital after South Florida authorities opened fire on their vehicle

Miami police investigators allege the couple - along with several
others from Decatur, Falkville, Eva and other areas - were trafficking
10 pounds of methamphetamine.

A relative of Brandon Andrew Scoggins, 25, said authorities won't
release any information to the family about his deadly encounter with
a Miami police SWAT team.

"The family has been treated terrible," Scoggins' aunt, Linda
Braswell, said. "We don't know why he was shot or who shot him."

Braswell, who spoke on behalf of Scoggins' mother, Sandra Widner, said
family members are devastated.

"Police asked her why she wanted to know what happened," Braswell
said. "And she said, 'Because I'm his mother,' but they just said it
was a sensitive issue and wouldn't tell her anything."

A spokeswoman for the Coral Gables Police Department referred
questions about the drug bust and shooting to Miami police. A Miami
police spokesman referred questions to the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement, and its spokeswoman did not immediately return a call

Braswell said police shot Scoggins multiple times and wounded his
girlfriend, Misty Mullican, 25, of Decatur, twice. She remained at
Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital's trauma unit today.

"Police told (Widner) she had to come to Miami to retrieve her son's
belongings, that they would not send them to her," Braswell said.
"Brandon was living in an apartment in Decatur, and his mother hadn't
seen him in two weeks."

"I don't think he was involved with drugs, but who could say for sure?
We've been given no answers."

Information obtained from several Miami print and electronic media
outlets revealed the shootout followed a month-long investigation by
Coral Gables police and the Florida Department of Law

According to Miami media reports, undercover drug agents there seized
10 pounds of methamphetamine worth an estimated $5 million from four
people at an undisclosed location.

Information reportedly obtained from the four led a SWAT team later
that night to the Miami Airport Regency Hotel, as authorities searched
for four registered guests who they suspected were connected in the
drug ring.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman Paige Patterson told
WSVN-TV 7 that police saw two suspects driving from the hotel parking

"When their car got to Northwest 45th Avenue and Ninth Street gunfire
erupted," she said. "The male occupant was killed and the female
occupant was injured."

Police later identified the shooting victims as Scoggins and Mullican,
and said they found two more suspects inside the hotel.

One of the six arrested was Ricky Wilhite, 31, of Cullman, who served
five years in prison on a conviction for dealing in methamphetamine.
He was recently released from federal probation.

Wilhite's mother, Levell Wilhite, said her son's ex-wife, Alice Diane
Hood, 33, called to tell her of their arrest.

"She said she and Ricky were both arrested for trafficking and being
held on no bond," Wilhite said. "I thought he was straightening out,
but undoubtedly he wasn't and just had me fooled.

"I hate it, but there is nothing I can do about it."

Wilhite said Ricky and his son were living with her until last

"He came and picked up some clothes, ate dinner and I ain't seen him
since," she said. "He was working at a Texaco truck stop in

Miami authorities arrested three others residing in Morgan County,
including Shawn Dempsey, 21, of Decatur; James Armstrong, 38, of
Falkville; and Julio Villela, 34, of Eva.

Falkville Police Chief Tom Cross said the name Julio sounds familiar,
but said he didn't know the man's last name.

"I started to hear the name Julio about six or seven months ago," he
said. "It came up in a conversation involving drug

A law enforcement officer from Lawrence County and a chaplain went to
Widner's home to deliver the news of her son's death, Braswell said.

"We went to his Decatur apartment to retrieve his belongings, but it
had been totally ransacked," Braswell said. "Brandon had a box with
his birth certificate and other papers in it, but it was gone.

"We were only able to retrieve a few of his things."

Braswell said Scoggins was Widner's only living child.

"She lost an 11-year-old son to cancer," she said. "He died of
leukemia. She can't talk to anybody but the immediate family. It's so
sad what happened to Brandon. She's had a hard life and now she loses
her second son."
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