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Drug suspects appear in court

Texas woman free on bond; Dumas man kept in jail by Dale Ellis | November 19, 2022 at 4:44 a.m.
The Richard Sheppard Arnold Federal Courthouse in Little Rock is shown in this Jan. 16, 2021, file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Dale Ellis)

As hearings in federal court continue to situate defendants in a wide-ranging investigation into gang violence and drug trafficking in Central Arkansas, a Dumas man was ordered to remain in jail until his case is resolved and a Texas woman was allowed to remain free on bond after being released by a federal judge in Texas earlier this week.

Jason McDonald, 37, of Dumas, and Shasha Quamina, 34, of Dallas, appeared Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe. Quamina was arraigned on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and use of a communications facility in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. She was arrested Nov. 9 in Dallas and last Monday appeared before a magistrate judge there, where she was released on bond and ordered to report for arraignment in Little Rock.

Quamina was indicted as a participant in the FBI investigation into the drug trafficking activities directed by the EBK street gang -- Every Body Killas -- that has been active in Pine Bluff and Little Rock.

Volpe agreed to allow Quamina to remain free on bond under the same conditions set down during her initial appearance in the federal court in Dallas.

McDonald was indicted as part of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration into drug trafficking in central Arkansas and has not been identified as being affiliated with either the EBK and Lodi Murder Mobb street gangs that were targeted in the FBI investigations. Facing multiple counts including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl, distribution of methamphetamine and fentanyl, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possession of a firearm by a felon, McDonald was ordered to remain in federal custody following a bond hearing after Volpe rejected a release proposal put forth by Patrick Benca, McDonald's attorney.

Tahara Rainey of Jefferson, who has a 9-year-old son with McDonald, was proposed as a third-party custodian who would be responsible for ensuring McDonald's adherence to any conditions attached to his release from jail. During testimony that was at times rambling and uncertain, Rainey said she could not recall key events where McDonald had had run-ins with the law in the past. Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Givens if she could recall any times when McDonald had fled from police, Rainey said she could not recall, even after Givens noted that she had been identified as a passenger in McDonald's vehicle during a traffic stop in Little Rock in February 2016.

Givens said the police report said after McDonald fled on foot from police, a female in the vehicle was spotted trying to run across 12th Street and was ordered back into the vehicle.

"That person was identified as you," Givens said. "Are you saying that didn't happen?"

"I don't recall that," Rainey said, growing agitated as Givens continued to press the issue.

Later, under questioning by Volpe, Rainey continued to deny any involvement in the traffic stop.

"Are you saying you don't remember or it didn't happen?" Volpe asked.

"I don't remember that," she said.

"But don't you think you would remember that?" Volpe continued.

Rainey said a woman was with McDonald that day but said police may have been confused because some of Rainey's documents were in the vehicle. Volpe pointed out that the report indicated police had talked to her during the traffic stop.

"No sir," Rainey replied. "I was not arrested."

"It doesn't say you were arrested," Volpe said. "Are you saying this never happened or you don't remember it happening?"

"I don't remember that," she replied.

At one point, Rainey said she needed McDonald home so she could go back to work.

"I need to provide for my son," she said, tearfully. "I just need some help."

A fire alarm interrupted the hearing for about 25 minutes as the courthouse was evacuated. After the all-clear was signaled, Rainey burst into tears as Givens tried to continue questioning her.

"Y'all are stressing me out," she shouted, breaking into sobs.

Following her testimony, Volpe rejected the release plan, calling Rainey "wholly unreliable."

"I don't find she's particularly truthful," he said. "I'm certainly not going to release somebody with these charges to somebody with Ms. Rainey's level of what we would look for in stability and reliability of a third-party custodian."

Next week, 16 more defendants have bond hearings scheduled and two more are scheduled for arraignment. The U.S. Attorney's office said that currently, of the 80 people indicted across the six indictments in the case, 12 defendants named in the FBI indictments and three named in the DEA indictments are still at large.

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