News and Press Releases


July 8, 2011

On July 8, 2011, Cortez L. Wooten, a thirty-four year old East St. Louis, IL, man was sentenced to life in prison, a $500 fine, and a $100 special assessment, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Pursuant to federal prison guidelines, there is no early release for such a sentence.

Wooten was found guilty after a two-day trial of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. Wooten had two prior drug felonies, which, under federal statutes, coupled with the quantity and type of the drugs involved, mandated the life sentence.

“Drug dealers should take note: if a person is going to deal in poison and misery to the community after having been caught before, that person might well be facing the prospect of life in prison if prosecuted by my office. No one takes pleasure in seeing a young life wasted, but, drug dealers who sell large quantities again and again, after having been convicted again and again, are certainly going to find themselves facing that exact situation, just like Mr. Wooten.” noted United States Attorney Wigginton.

Facts brought out in court showed that on February 17, 2010, while patrolling in East St. Louis, WAVE agents saw Wooten sitting in a parked on the side of a street. One of the agents was aware that there was an active warrant on Wooten for a supervised release violation. Wooten was found with crack, a scale, and cash when arrested.

The case resulted from the efforts of the WAVE (Working Against Violent Elements) Task Force, which focuses its efforts on combating violent crime in East St. Louis, Washington Park, and surrounding communities. WAVE was formed in November, 2009, and is a collaboration of law enforcement officers from the Illinois State Police, the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois (MEGSI), the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, the East St. Louis Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the United States Marshals Service. The WAVE Task Force receives financial support through the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative, a nationwide federal program which endeavors to address gun-related violence.



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