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Murder suspect now accused of trying to buy, sell drugs at Gwinnett jail

Joshua Starks

Joshua Starks

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James Glenn Jones

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Matthew C. Willoughby

LAWRENCEVILLE — Already charged with murder in a drug-related shootout at a Norcross motel, Joshua Jamaal Starks has now been tied to a gang-related plot aimed at bringing cocaine into the Gwinnett County jail.

Starks, James Glenn Jones and Matthew C. Willoughby were each indicted last week on charges including conspiracy to violate the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. All three were being held at the Gwinnett County jail in December, when authorities uncovered their alleged attempts to set up a narcotics-selling operation.

Warrants filed Dec. 18 accused Starks, Jones and Willoughby of conspiring several days earlier “to receive and sell illegal drugs at the Gwinnett County Detention Center.” According to the indictment, the three men attempted to “communicate with others to receive cocaine sent to the Gwinnett County Detention Center, communicate with others about payment for cocaine, and take possession of cocaine at the Gwinnett County Detention Center.”

Few other details were available about the alleged actions of the inmates, originally incarcerated on charges ranging from murder to “hold for court.”

“A tip from an inmate prompted an undercover investigation by deputies assigned to our Investigative Services Division,” Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Shannon Volkodav said.

Starks and Jones were also indicted on criminal gang activity charges. It was unclear if they knew each other prior to being arrested, but documents said both were affiliated with the Gangster Disciples gang, which has origins in 1970s Chicago and, according to a database maintained by the University of Maryland, “is well known for the distribution of narcotics and white collar crimes.”

In 2011, a multi-agency crackdown focused on dismantling Gwinnett County’s arm of the Gangster Disciples, honing in specifically on the Bradford Gwinnett Apartments off Castor Drive near Norcross. Between February and December 2011, 49 alleged members were arrested.

Starks, a 23-year-old Lawrenceville resident, has been in the Gwinnett County jail since July 12 of last year, when he was charged with murder following a drug-related incident outside a Red Roof Inn in Norcross. Details in that case, led by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, are scarce, but authorities believe Starks and 21-year-old Stenneth Lee Charles exchanged gunfire after a July 4 drug deal went awry.

Charles was killed and Starks was also hit, spending several days in critical condition at Gwinnett Medical Center before being taken to jail.

Willoughby, a 28-year-old Clarkston resident, was originally arrested following a home invasion in Lilburn. Jones was being held for court.

Warrants showed a fourth man, Damon Smith, was also charged in the alleged jail drug scheme. The Stone Mountain man was not indicted last week with the other suspects, but jail records still show the conspiracy and gangs charges filed against him.