UPDATE — See latest guilty pleas, cases dropped in Jake’s Fireworks prosecution
Published 12:39 am Thursday, January 20, 2022
NEDERLAND — Eight of the nine defendants have either pleaded guilty or had charges dismissed in the case involving drug trafficking out of a Nederland fireworks business.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office put out a release this week to announce two defendants pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges — Jake Daughtry, owner of Jake’s Fireworks and Right Price Chemicals in Nederland, and Kip Daughtry. Both face up to 20 years in federal prison.
The government dropped charges against Daughtry’s mother, Sandra Daughtry, and Jordan King, who was an employee at the business.
Co-defendants Jesse Hackett, Austin Dial and Tanner Jorgensen entered sealed plea agreements Jan. 12; while Kip Daughtry and Jake Daughtry entered sealed plea agreements Tuesday.
Joshua Whisneant entered a sealed plea agreement in December, according to court records obtained by Port Arthur Newsmedia.
Jake Daughtry’s father, Joseph Daughtry, had not entered a plea deal as of Wednesday.
Federal court rules state defendants can remain outside of custody until sentencing, which might not come for a few months.
Hackett, who the government sought to detain last year along with Jake Daughtry prior to trial, owes the government $22,100 in civil forfeiture, according to court records.
In July 2020, federal agents raided Jake’s Fireworks and Right Price Chemicals, located at 2565 Twin City Highway in Nederland. Following the raid, the U.S. government released indictments for nine suspects on allegations that Jake Daughtry and the other defendants knowingly distributed 1,4 butanediol for human consumption. The chemical is more commonly referred to as BDO.
The 24-count indictment included charges ranging from drug trafficking to money laundering.
According to court papers, Right Price Chemicals made $4.5 million in sales of BDO from 2016-2020. The company allowed people to buy the chemical online or at the storefront on Twin City Highway.
The government linked the deaths of two people on the East Coast to BDO sold by Right Price Chemicals in 2018.
“After being notified by Florida law enforcement that this dangerous and lethal chemical was being sold to users for a nefarious purpose, East Texas law enforcement agencies took action to protect the public and prevent others from falling prey to the sale and use of this dangerous substance,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said in a release.
“This was a complicated investigation involving numerous investigative agencies and both the criminal and civil divisions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Their collaborative efforts have made our community and country a safer place to live.”
Last year, the federal government dropped a civil lawsuit against the Daughtrys after the then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Englade presented fabricated evidence to a judge, according to court records. Englade has since retired.
The government agreed to allow the Daughtrys to reopen their businesses under the condition they never sell BDO again.
The attorney for Joseph Daughtry declined to comment on the case prior to the sentencing phase.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.