Ex-coach dies before trial on drug charges

David Coates

BRANDON – (AP) David Coates, the former longtime football coach and athletic director at Northwest Rankin High School who was facing drug charges, has died.

Coates’ death was confirmed in statements by his attorney, Bill Kirksey, and District Attorney Michael Guest.

The 57-year-old Coates died Thursday of an apparent heart attack at his Rankin County home.

Coates had been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell or distribute. He was scheduled for trial on Aug. 10 in Rankin County Circuit Court.

Guest said an autopsy may be sought in Coates’ death.

Coates, along with his son and daughter and several others were charged in 2011 by state and federal agents in a scheme to distribute marijuana, ecstasy and other illegal drugs in an investigation called “Operation Brilliant Orange”.

Authorities said the investigation led to a large trafficking network operating in Hinds, Madison, Rankin, Lafayette and Forrest counties that had ties to drugs being imported from Amsterdam.

Coates’ son, Joseph Patrick Coates, 22, of Pearl, a student at the University of Mississippi, was sentenced to nine years in U.S. District Court in Jackson. He was charged with sale of MDMA, the main ingredient in Ecstasy, and possession of narcotics.

Coates’ daughter, Mary Alice Coates, 21, also an Ole Miss student, was sentenced in Lafayette County and received eight years for conspiring to sell MDMA.

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