GROVE HILL, Alabama (WALA) — The reputed head of a large Gulf Coast drug ring briefly escaped form the Clarke County jail Tuesday before authorities took him back in to custody.
Federal authorities had detained Darrin Jamark Southall, 42, at the jail. He is one of 16 people indicted on drug conspiracy charges. Prosecutors allege that Southall oversaw an operation that sold crack and powder cocaine, as well as fentanyl, along the Gulf Coast.
Clarke County Sheriff Ray Norris told FOX10 News that Southall took advantage of a shift change and slipped away just before 6 p.m.
“We had a corrections officer take his eyes off of him when he was taking him out to take out the trash,” he said. “It was 100 percent our fault and 100 percent human error.”
Norris said Southall made it to a wooded area near the jail and then out an open door. But he said law enforcement authorities apprehended him a few hours later with the help for a helicopter from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and canines from the Department of Corrections in Atmore.
The U.S. Marshalls Service has transferred Southall to the Baldwin County Corrections Center in Bay Minette.
Norris said he will extend shift changes by another 10 minutes to ensure that inmates do not escape during the changeover.
“We’re changing a lot of our protocols and checks,” he said.
Donald Briskman and Henry Dearman, lawyers who had been representing Southall, both asked to withdraw from the case over potential conflicts of interests. The lawyers wrote in a court filing that they previously represented co-defendants in the drug case. A judge has set a hearing on that issue for Friday.
The scale of the alleged drug enterprise is evident from the long list of assets prosecutors are asked to be forfeited by the defendants in the case. They include bank accounts totaling almost $2.3 million and assorted jewelry. Prosecutors also are seeking a court order to seize 10 vehicles:
a 2014 Rolls Royce Wraith.
a 1985 Buick Regal Grand National.
a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
a Buick Wildcat.
a 2007 Mercedes Benz.
a 2015 Mercedes CLS400.
a 1970 Buick Electra.
a 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe.
a 1990s Chevrolet Caprice.
a 197 Chevy Impala.
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