Georgia Firefighters Indicted for Warning Drug Dealers of Raids

Two Spalding County, Georgia firefighters have been indicted on federal charges that they tipped off drug dealers about drug raids. Battalion Chief Dwayne Tyrone Coggins, 47, and Firefighter Michael Owens, 37, were indicted by a federal grand jury last week.

The are accused of informing drug dealers from their fire station that police officers were assembling to conduct raids. According to an FBI press release:

“When called upon to assist the police, Coggins and Owens’ first instinct was to call the drug dealers to warn them,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Now, they face federal charges for protecting drug dealers.”

The press release indicates that the pair warned the drug dealers on at least two occasions in April and May of this year.

Police regularly gathered at the Spalding County Fire Department before scheduled police activity such as serving arrest warrants. In April and May 2014, both Coggins and Owens warned drug dealers about law enforcement activity in the area before it occurred. They were aware of the police activity because they had been informed by law enforcement about the investigation or had seen officers gathering near the fire station before serving warrants. Police became aware that Coggins and Owens were tipping off drug traffickers to law enforcement activities during the course of an on-going drug investigation.

Here is a copy of the press release. Both Chief Coggins and FF Owens have been suspended from Spalding County.


About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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