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Feds link meth deliveries to alleged gang member, homicide victim

Sun Herald - 4/19/2017

April 19--A package of meth seized by the U.S. Postal Service before it was delivered to a Gulfport home in February 2015 raised federal agents' suspicions of drug-trafficking activity.

The same month, the Picayune Police Department was told members of the Simon City Royals street gang had beaten and burned someone. The person reportedly had refused to accept responsibility for the package of meth on an order to keep the heat off gang members.

Further investigation linked junior-ranking gang member Jason Michael Hayden, 36, to both crimes and identified him as a meth distributor who obtained most of his supplies from fellow gang member Matthew Spooner, a court document says. Spooner and another gang member, both with Hancock County ties, were shot to death early last summer.

Those details and others from investigations that began in February 2015 are revealed in an affidavit filed in federal court by Special Agent Kevin Istre of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The package mailed to the Gulfport address contained nearly 1.7 pounds of meth, the document says. A resident of the home received a letter a week later saying the packaged had been seized. Hayden and a relative allegedly told the two residents to go with them to a Picayune hotel, and that's where he and other Simon City Royals reportedly assaulted the resident who didn't want to be involved. The resident was a gang associate.

Hayden was in charge of the "DoD," the gang's own department of defense, the affidavit says. A DoD takes care of punishing members who violate gang rules or orders.

Another package had been sent to a home in January 2015, reportedly on Hayden's orders. Hayden, Spooner and another person went to the house to retrieve the package, the affidavit says.

Harrison County deputies arrested Hayden on March 8 on a cocaine possession charge. He has been held since then for federal marshals on suspicion of distributing meth.

A federal grand jury instead indicted him on a charge of felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleges he was in possession of a firearm -- a Beretta .22 caliber pistol -- when he was arrested.

It's unclear if prosecutors plan to use Hayden as a witness in the killings of Spooner and Jeremy Fountain. Fountain was on probation for manufacturing meth and possession of precursors. Both men were shot in the head.

Hayden, from Picayune, was arraigned Friday.

U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden on Tuesday set the trial on a court calendar that starts July 10.

A parade fight

In February 2015, Hayden was among a dozen or so people sought after a fight broke out at the Nereids Mardi Gras parade in Waveland. Police said the fight was over $6 a Simon City Royals member's girlfriend had dropped. A Sun Herald photographer recorded the fight on video.

A federal magistrate refused to set bond for Hayden after his March arrest. The reasons include his prior attempts to evade law enforcement and failure to appear in court, a detention order says.

Also, Hayden's convictions include conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, obstruction of justice, possession of contraband in a correctional facility and felony fleeing.

Police have linked Spooner's death in New Orleans with Fountain's death in Waveland's Shoreline Park.

Spooner's friends have said he and some other gang members had formed a new group called the Sip City Royals, a group that was moving away from criminal activities and trying to make a positive impact on the community, according to the Sea Coast Echo.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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(c)2017 The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)

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