$24 million drug empire crumbles: Kingpin cops to 4,000 kilos of cocaine

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The leader of a $24 million drug operation off the streets of Mobile, and potentially off to prison for several decades.

WKRG News 5 has been following the case of Darrin Southall over the past year — just this week he ​reached a plea deal. Police say putting someone like Southall behind bars is big news for the city.

“It’s a great day in the city of Mobile to be able to have someone of this magnitude taken off the streets and taken out of the drug trade,” said Lawrence Battiste, public safety director for the city of Mobile.

Southall will be off the streets after entering a plea deal. He faces anywhere from 30-35 years behind bars for his crimes.

“So having him take a plea with significant jail time associated with that plea means a lot to this community as a whole for someone like him not to be able to be back on the streets,” Battiste said.

Southall has a long criminal history dating back to the 1990s. Federal prosecutors labeled him a ringleader in a multi-state, multi-million dollar drug organization since at least 2016.

“When you’ve got two major interstates, we are a major connect from where drugs are being transported from primarily. Oftentimes, many of those drugs find those ways into our communities simply because we are a major thoroughfare for those drugs to make their way to other places,” Battiste said.

Mobile police say his arrest will make an impact. “Sometimes when you take out a major head of any organization, there are people that are vying for positions to maybe take over the area or role that particular person served in. But I do think it will have a short-term impact on the disruption. In particular, his criminal organization that he had in place,” Battiste said. “Our hope and desire is that not only do we cripple him and what he’s been able to do, but maybe cripple others who may be looking to come up and fill the void that has been created by him.”

With this plea, Southall admits he is accountable for about 4,000 kilograms of cocaine, 24 kilograms of heroin, and he admits he took in about $24 million during the time of his operation. According to court documents, Southall did some of his business in Mobile, Mississippi, and Texas.

“We need to hold them accountable for the behavior because the drug trade typically drives other types of crime, burglaries, homicides, assaults,” Battise said.

His sentencing for this federal case is set for Feb. 18.

Southall was also named as a person of interest in a double homicide earlier this year. The grandparents of local rapper HoneyKomb Brazy were found dead in their home after it caught fire in February. No one has been arrested in connection with those deaths.

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