BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – An indictment charging 12 defendants in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy based in Calhoun County was unsealed Tuesday, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Mickey French. Eight of the defendants were arrested Tuesday; the four remaining defendants were already in custody on state offenses.
A 66-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Antonio Franchester Orr, aka Lil T, aka Tony, 48, of Eastaboga; Brandon Maurice Butler, aka BB, 34, of Lincoln; Thomas Terrel Truss, 50, of Oxford; Seth Michael Owens, 29, of Ragland; Gerod Montario Stripling, 35, of Eastaboga; Jakahri Howard, aka Joc, 22, of Lincoln; Steven Weed, 50, of Lincoln; Melissa Sage Goins, 36, of Guntersville; Brian Kenneth Goodwin, 44, of Pell City; Michael Edwin Scales Sr., 68, of Anniston; James Christopher Stanley, 46, of Tuscaloosa; and Charles Alan Calhoun, aka Charles Allen Calhoun, aka Chopper, 57, of Alpine, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana between June 2021 and June 2022. The indictment also charges all defendants with at least one count of using a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.
The DEA, the ATF and other law enforcement agencies have seized a total of more than 20 kilograms of methamphetamine and 1 kilogram of cocaine as a part of the investigation. The indictment includes special findings of the grand jury regarding the amount of methamphetamine attributable to various defendants as part of the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
- Orr, Butler, Truss, Owens, Stripling, Howard, Weed, Goins, Goodwin, Scales and Stanley are charged with conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. This charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
- Calhoun is charged with conspiring to distribute a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine. This charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
- Orr is charged with distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. This charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
- Howard is charged with possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine. This charge carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.
- Goodwin is charged with possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. This charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
- Orr, Owens and Stripling are charged with possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. This charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
- Orr is charged with attempt to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. This charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
- Howard, Butler and Stripling are charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The minimum prison sentence for this charge is five years in prison, which must be served after completion of any other sentence related to the crime.
The maximum penalty for conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance is life in prison. Each count of using a telephone in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.
Orr, Stripling and Stanley were already in custody on related state charges. Truss is serving a 20-year prison sentence in Fountain Correctional Facility for first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy.
“The combined efforts of multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies resulted in the seizure of a large amount of methamphetamine and the indictment of a dozen individuals for conspiring to traffic in illegal drugs,” said Escalona. “The scope of this indictment, including charges for use of firearms and interstate communication facilities to carry out the drug trafficking operation, demonstrates the expertise of our Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force in stopping the flow of dangerous drugs into our communities.”
“In Alabama and all across our nation, DEA and our partners are determined to find drug traffickers, shut down their operations and bring them to justice. Today’s arrests are yet another strike against the powerful drug trafficking organizations whose tentacles stretch across the state border into our neighborhoods,” said DEA ASAC Towanda Thorne-James.
“This case highlights the impact multiple agencies can have when they join forces. We will continue to work together and pursue those individuals who participate in organized crime, distribute illegal and dangerous drugs and illegally possess firearms. These types of individuals and activities wreak havoc in the communities that we serve which is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said French.
The DEA and the ATF investigated the case, along with assistance from the Anniston Police Department, Oxford Police Department, 7th Judicial Circuit Major Crimes Unit, Calhoun County District Attorney’s Office, Talladega County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, Pell City Police Department, West Alabama Narcotics Task Force, Blount County Sheriff’s Department and the Alabama National Guard Joint Counter Drug Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Allison Garnett and Blake Milner are prosecuting the case.
This investigation is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). OCDETF is an independent component of the U.S. Department of Justice. Established in 1982, OCDETF is the centerpiece of the attorney general’s strategy to combat transnational-organized-crime and to reduce the availability of illicit narcotics in the nation by using a prosecutor-led, multi-agency approach to enforcement. OCDETF leverages the resources and expertise of its partners in concentrated, coordinated, long-term enterprise investigations of transnational organized crime, money laundering and major drug trafficking networks.
An indictment contains only charges. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.