Drug raid shooting

Kathleen Suddeth, left, and Bianca Booker, center, along with several other unidentified family members of a man wounded by a Huntsville police officer react after hearing the news at midmorning Tuesday. Kenneth Jamar, 51, of Honey Way was shot in his home when officers accompanied by Alabama Bureau of Investigation agents attempted to serve a warrant on Jamar’s nephew, Jerome Wallace, 28, as part of a multi-county drug investigation. Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely is investigating the shooting.

Family members described 51-year-old Kenneth Jamar as a semi-invalid with a pacemaker, who “couldn’t get up to make himself a ham sandwich.”

But Huntsville police officers and Alabama Bureau of Investigation agents say Jamar of 13355 Honey Way in far-eastern Limestone County was armed with a weapon and acted in an “aggressive” manner when they attempted serve a warrant Tuesday morning on his nephew, Jerome Wallace, 28.

A Huntsville officer shot Jamar multiple times. He is recovering after surgery in Huntsville Hospital, after being airlifted from the scene by MedFlight helicopter shortly after the 9:30 a.m. shooting.

Sheriff Mike Blakely is investigating the shooting. Tuesday’s incident came at the culmination of a two-year undercover investigation into a drug trafficking organization run by Oscar Xicotencah Salomon, also known as Javier Hernandez, Jose Delores, “Lo Lo”, 34, of Decatur, according to U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin.

She said that starting in the early morning hours, more than 100 law-enforcement agents from at least 10 agencies executed 23 search warrants and executed arrest warrants on individuals suspected as members of a drug-trafficking organization operating in north Alabama. Search warrants were executed in Decatur, Hartselle, Huntsville, Madison, Crossville, and Cullman.

Limestone County was not involved in the investigation or in serving the subsequent arrest warrants, said Blakely.

“The first we knew about the investigation was when we got the report that someone had been shot,” said Blakely.

Jamar and several immediate and extended family members live in a cluster of residences on Honey Way, a short dirt road connecting to a service road running along the north side of U.S. 72 East, just west of the county line.

According to Jamar’s sister, Kimberly McCoy, the white van that showed up in their yard Tuesday morning is the same one, or similar to one, that contained officers who came last Thursday to question them about a suspect in a bank robbery.

“One day last week, on Thursday, they came and said they were looking for a guy who robbed a bank,” said McCoy. “Our family don’t do nothing like that. Everybody down here is family. We’re all family and there are no drugs and nobody robbed a bank.”

She said officers on Thursday told her that the man they were seeking was white, and they “must have the wrong neighborhood.” McCoy said she got a call early Tuesday from her 11-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, saying police had “busted in the door” of Jamar’s house.

“I told her to get to the back of the house and get on the floor,” said McCoy. “The SWAT team was already here when I came from work.”

At least nine law-enforcement agencies were on the scene of the shooting Tuesday, including agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency; Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Alabama Bureau of Investigation; Limestone County Sheriff’s Department; Madison County Sheriff’s SWAT team; Huntsville Police Department and Alabama State Troopers.

Of the 29 people arrested or apprehended in Tuesday’s sweep, 27 were determined to be illegally in the United States, according to Martin. Federal criminal complaints filed in the U.S. District Court in Birmingham resulted in the arrest of 15 of the 29 individuals.  The remaining 14 arrests were due to the individual’s illegal status in the United States.  They are currently in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 “The Salomon Mexican drug-trafficking organization was a major distributor of cocaine, methamphetamine/ICE and marijuana to high-level and mid-level dealers throughout Northern Alabama and the region,” said Martin in a press release.

“While I am discouraged about the level of this criminal element in our community, I am very encouraged by our ability to identify and dismantle this organization,” said Huntsville Police Chief Rex Reynolds at a 4 p.m. press conference.

Over the course of this investigation, hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine/methamphetamine ICE, multiple tons of marijuana, and multi-kilograms of cocaine have been distributed, and tens of thousands of dollars have been exchanged, Martin said.

She said investigators believe the criminal enterprise received its drug supply from a Mexican wholesaler. During Tuesday’s execution of search warrants, unspecified amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, money, and multiple firearms were recovered.

Suspects arrested Tuesday on federal drug conspiracy charges include: Oscar Xicotencah Salomon, 34, Decatur; Manuel Angel Sierra, Jr., 20, Decatur; Michelle Hood, 29, Decatur; Andres Bello Hernandez, 30, Madison; Abraham Salomon, 44, Decatur; Gerrardo Maldonado, 28, Huntsville; Octaviano Salomon, 44, Hartselle; Simon Velasquez, 25, Decatur; Alfonso Terriquez, 20, Decatur; Esmir Jacobo Bojorquez, 31, Huntsville; Feliciano Leon Leon, 33, Huntsville; and Jerome Wallace, 28, Madison.  

In separate complaints, which also charge drug conspiracy, these people were arrested: Esmir Franco-Samudious, 38, Huntsville; Wendy Padilla Alejandro, 18, Decatur; and Nahum Cuevas, 24, Decatur.

Those arrested made initial appearances Tuesday in Birmingham before federal magistrates. Other arrest warrants remain outstanding. The next step of the judicial process for these suspects will be the presentment of indictments, which may contain additional charges, to a federal grand jury. That will occur within the next 30 days, according to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The 14 illegal aliens who were taken into custody by agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement were to be transferred to the Detention Center in Etowah County, where they will await further identification, which could result in additional charges in addition to deportation.

This investigation was conducted through the Madison-Morgan County Strategic Counter Drug (STAC) HIDTA Task Force.  The HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Task Force is comprised of state, local and federal law-enforcement narcotics agents.

The HIDTA program is administered through the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for the White House.

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