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Prosecutor: Father's cocaine biz led robbers to home where teen was fatally shot

 Nicholas Jackson faces a federal judge Monday charged with drug trafficking. A robbing crew who killed his son were in search of drugs and money, prosecutors say. (Artist rendering)

Nicholas Jackson faces a federal judge Monday charged with drug trafficking. A robbing crew who killed his son were in search of drugs and money, prosecutors say. (Artist rendering)

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Nick Jackson

ATLANTA — In a roundabout way, Nicholas Jackson brought the violent death of his 15-year-old son on himself, a hearing in U.S. District Court in Atlanta revealed Monday.

Rumors circulated that Jackson, a known cocaine distributor, kept $1 million and 50 kilograms of cocaine in his Autry Street home near downtown Norcross, prosecutors said. But a six-man robbery crew that stormed the home’s basement and fatally shot Jackson’s son, Norcross High School student Nick Jackson, was looking for a cache that was not there, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Skye Davis.

Information about the robbery crew’s motive came from two of the suspects charged in the teen’s death — the only two who are cooperating with Gwinnett prosecutors, Davis said. She left no doubt that “the home was specifically targeted based on (the elder) Jackson’s drug trafficking,” giving reason to a crime that shocked many in the historic city by way of its brashness.

Jackson, 38, is charged with drug possession and trafficking alongside eight other men in a federal indictment. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, where there is no parole.

Shackled, wearing a bright-orange jumpsuit and towering over his codefendants, Jackson nodded and smiled at supporters that included his mother, wife and teenage daughter as he entered the courtroom. Family members declined comment.

An investigation that began in early 2011 showed Jackson and others, including his “right-hand man” Darren Dunlap, acted as distributors, brokers and couriers for Mexican drug traffickers. Authorities seized eight kilograms of cocaine, 75 kilograms of marijuana and $800,000 in the facet of the investigation that involved Jackson, Davis said.

None of the eight suspects named in the federal indictment with Jackson are among the seven men charged in the killing of Jackson’s son, a middle-school valedictorian and football player at Norcross High.

At Monday’s detention hearing, Jackson’s attorney, Stanley Baum, asked the court to grant a $25,000 bond, stressing the family is ready to pledge its assets.

“It’s an unfortunate thing that his son has died,” Baum said. “But if it’s true that (robbers) targeted the home ... that would just make the whole family more of a victim.”

Davis argued that Jackson is a flight risk and danger to the community.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman withheld a ruling on Jackson’s bond until his attorney could produce documents showing the true value of his home. “If we’re going to grant a bond, it would be far in excess of $25,000 — many, many times that,” the judge told Baum.

The three codefendants in the hearing, who prosecutors called illegal Mexican nationals, were denied bond. One of them, David Gomez, was identified in an agent’s testimony as a “top lieutenant” in the organization, and another, Jose Luis Cano-Pacheco, as a “boss,” who controlled drug runners.

DEA Agent Michael Connolly testified Monday that 27 phones were tapped and hundreds of hours of surveillance conducted during the operation.

Jackson, too, had a system for watching, by way of “workers” he employed, said Davis.

When authorities stopped Dunlap in May last year and pulled five kilos of cocaine from the vehicle, Jackson dispatched someone to observe the search, and he phoned a Mexican counterpart to warn of “a problem,” Davis said.

Jackson’s background includes a string of arrests but only two convictions, for aggravated assault when he was 19 and battery five years later, Davis said.

The Feb. 2 home-invasion rattled city officials and the victim’s many admirers.

Nick Jackson and his sister were home alone when men stormed their family’s residence. Investigators believe the teen was barricading the door to his basement bedroom when six shots were fired. One shot penetrated his heart, killing him.

A Norcross police detective testified in an earlier hearing that the elder Jackson was so incensed by seeing his son shot, he tore the bedroom door off its hinges and flung it across the basement. Norcross police assisted DEA agents with Jackson’s arrest Wednesday.

Six suspects were arrested leaving the Jackson’s home and charged with burglary and murder; a seventh man was booked later, but police don’t believe he was at the home. The rented getaway van was allegedly filled with ski masks, latex gloves, duct tape and handguns.

Also in the van: More than $19,000.

That money was not discussed in federal court. In Gwinnett, District Attorney Danny Porter said he believes the money was pilfered from the Jackson residence, though “one of the defendants has another explanation.”

Jackson knew at least one of the men accused of killing his son, Porter said.

In a packed probable cause hearing in February, Jackson remained outside the courtroom, unseen by the murder suspects. He would later attend a “Victims’ Vigil” in April, set up the Gwinnett District Attorney’s Office to benefit grieving families.

Baum said the Jackson family left the home, valued at more than $200,000, after the killing. Jackson has worked as a contractor and built the tri-story Craftsman himself, on a plot he purchased years ago for $35,000, Baum said.

The investigation into Jackson and others led authorities to a related Mexican crystal methamphetamine and money laundering ring in metro Atlanta. Five suspects were named in a separate indictment released last week and summarily rounded up, officials said.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the takedown, in totality, has been “a step toward making Atlanta a safer community.”

Another detention hearing for Jackson’s codefendants is scheduled Wednesday. Only Dunlap, Jackson’s close associate, remains at large. Federal officials urged anyone with information on Dunlap’s whereabouts to call the U.S. Marshals Service at 1-877-WANTED2 or the DEA Atlanta Field Division at 404-893-7000.

An award for excellent students at Hopewell Christian Academy, where Nick Jackson graduated atop his eighth-grade class, will bear his name.

Comments

news2me 1 year, 8 months ago

I had a bad feeling that this would be the outcome. Heart wrenching and sickening to think this young man died because of his father.

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Coolray 1 year, 8 months ago

The sins of the father were visted upon the son! How sad that an innocent boy died because his father sold drugs that killed other innocent boys and girls. He seems to have no remorse and I can't understand how the boys mother could show up and support the man responsible for the death of her son.

We've really lost our moral compass here...,..

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A_Gwinnetian 1 year, 8 months ago

His father not only bears the onus of being caught for his misdeeds but also the guilt of leading wolves to his beautiful child. What misery he will have for making such bad decisions with his life.

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BuzzG 1 year, 8 months ago

Top dogs here are three Mexican illegal aliens. Another gift to us from our politicians in Washington who refuse to build a fence on the southern border. Romney says he will build the fence. I believe him. I can't wait until the first Tuesday in November to send Obama to the unemployment line.

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BurritoJones 1 year, 8 months ago

Takes an awful lot of class to turn a story about a tragic crime into yet another Obama rant.

How about you tone it down for a minute? We all know your opinions, as you've made a point to remind us every day.

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Coolray 1 year, 8 months ago

Even if Obama loses, you'll still be you and that sucks!

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 8 months ago

Coolray and Burrito nailed that one. Not to mention that the bad guys are awfully good at burrowing, driving, flying and boating to get their cargo and themselves here. Never mind that with the reduced tax revenues also promised we'd have to borrow even more from China to pay for such a wall. Ohhhh - then there was the billion dollar hunk that was already built and failed miserably. We could just do what a truly astute businessman might have suggested - eliminate the demand for the product.

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SickandTired 1 year, 8 months ago

Unbelieveable! "Jackson nodded and smiled at supporters that included his mother, wife and teenage daughter as he entered the courtroom. Family members declined comment." Sorry but the wife is just as guilty. Don't tell me she didn't know what was going on in that house. The attorney Stanley Baum sounds like a real dirt bag too “It’s an unfortunate thing that his son has died,” Baum said. “But if it’s true that (robbers) targeted the home ... that would just make the whole family more of a victim.” Unfortunate? Really? The only victims are the murdered teenage son and the daughter who is left to live with that tragic memory. The DEA seizure was 18# of coke and 165# of pot!! That's not a stash you can hide in a coffee can.

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Dubbin 1 year, 8 months ago

The more I see of the scourge of drugs the more I think we should adopt Singapore's method of caning the living crap out of anybody who is caught with drugs - period. And let the parents and relatives of those who've ruined their lives with dope do the caning.

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A_Gwinnetian 1 year, 8 months ago

I cannot even imagine losing a child to anything...much less for something illegal I was doing or did. How do those parents even breathe a breath now?

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HonestIngine 1 year, 8 months ago

Interesting article.... First of all.. He and his wife have already left the house, so who cares if he pledges his assets..25k is a drop in the bucket to Dealers..Make it 25 million then you have a deal... Drug dealers have no assets, only CASH AND DRUGS... He is a flight risk, the Mexican Cartel will bring him back to Mexico,stay there a couple of years, change his idenity, and hide him elsewhere, in another American Community that does not know his past.. The DA needs to charge him 2nd Degree murder, child endangerment, and a list of other crimes to make sure he stays in Jail...

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chasmcjr 1 year, 8 months ago

More likely they will just kill him. Cheaper, easier and prevents him from making a 'deal' with prosecutors.

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