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Friday, 11 July 2014

Birmingham heroin and cocaine ring leader sentenced; had tossed $60,000 out of high-rise condo during arrest

A man described by federal prosecutors as the leader of one of Birmingham's largest heroin and cocaine trafficking rings, who threw more than $60,000 in cash out the window of his downtown high-rise condo when he was arrested, was sentenced Thursday to nearly 22 years in federal prison. Billy Williams Jr., 41, was sentenced by U.S.  District Judge Sharon L. Blackburn to 262 months in prison for his role in leading the West End-based ring, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein, Jr., IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot, and Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale.        Williams pleaded guilty in December 2013 to various drug charges, including using a telephone to traffic drugs and to launder money from the operation. The ring allegedly brought more than $5 million in heroin and cocaine into the Birmingham market in the span of a year. Williams and nine others were originally charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distributing heroin, cocaine, and other drugs in a 41-count May 2013 federal grand jury indictment.  A superseding indictment in October 2013 removed one defendant and added two.  In addition to being charged in the conspiracy, various defendants were also charged with distributing drugs and laundering money, according to today's statement. "The drug trafficking organization Billy Williams, Jr., led was a significant contributor to our heroin epidemic," Vance said. "This conviction of these eleven heroin traffickers is a great example of how cooperation between federal and local law enforcement can lead to dismantling significant drug-trafficking organizations that are killing our children." "This case is a model of law enforcement coming together to identify and eliminate the criminal element. I would  like to personally thank the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and other members of the FBI's North Alabama Safe Streets Task Force, as well as IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, and ATF for their hard work in bringing these drug traffickers to justice and making our community a safer place," Schwein stated. IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot stated that the role of IRS Criminal Investigation in narcotics investigations is to follow the money and financially disrupt major drug trafficking organizations. "This has been illustrated in the financial investigation and subsequent prosecution of Billy Williams, Jr.," she stated. A year-long investigation by the FBI into the drug trafficking operation culminated in the January 25, 2013, arrest of Sammuel Dewayne Gulley, who authorities described as a key member of Williams' organization. Gulley was arrested in possession of two kilograms of nearly pure heroin following a high-speed chase with Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies, according to today's statement.  Later that night, agents seized over one and a half kilograms of cocaine from a home associated with Williams and Gulley.  During his arrest in late May of 2013, Williams threw over $60,000 in cash out of the window of his 12th floor condo at City Federal, according to the statement.  Agents also recovered over $166,000 in cash and over $177,000 in jewelry and other valuables from Williams' condo. Others in the ring who were sentenced today were: Abe Johnson, 51, who received a 54-month sentence Marion Reynolds Jr., 53, who was sentenced to 48 months Walter Johnson, 48, who was sentenced to 42 months

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