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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 4, 2020

Prisoner Sentenced For A Conspiracy To Distribute Methamphetamine Inside A Prison

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On September 3, 2020, William E. Echols, 36, of Rockford, was sentenced by the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville.

After a trial, the defendant was convicted by a jury of both a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.  Echols was sentenced to 238 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. 

On October 29, 2018, Echols was one of five prisoners on a work detail from the Jefferson County, Tennessee, Detention Center, that conspired to smuggle a large amount of methamphetamine back into the prison.  While working on a roadside detail outside of the detention center walls, the prisoners found multiple kilograms of methamphetamine in a box on the roadside.  The source of that methamphetamine is unknown. Echols and four others tried the methamphetamine, discovered that it was real, and then hatched a plan to bring the methamphetamine back into the prison. The prisoners divided a portion of the methamphetamine among themselves, and several prisoners were able to smuggle the methamphetamine back into the prison, where it was distributed to other prisoners. After an investigation, law enforcement was able to seize approximately two kilograms of pure methamphetamine.

In addition to his convictions for conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, Echols was classified as a Career Offender under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines due to his extensive criminal history, including two previous robbery convictions, and numerous other criminal offenses.

This prosecution resulted from a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) Johnson City, the 4th Judicial District of Tennessee Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Knoxville.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Quencer and LaToyia Carpenter represented the United States.

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Contact: 
Rachelle Barnes Public Information Officer (865) 545-4167
Updated September 4, 2020