Major Drug Trafficker Sentenced To Federal Prison On Drug Trafficking And Gun Charges
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced JOHNNY J. MASON, age 36, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was sentenced to federal prison following his convictions in Operation Hidden Fee, an extensive federal, state, and local investigation by the Middle District Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) aimed at a drug trafficking network based and operating in Baton Rouge. The Indictment filed in this matter charged significant drug trafficking offenses involving heroin, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine, as well as several firearm offenses.
U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson sentenced MASON to a 180 month term of imprisonment following his convictions for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine, possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The Court also sentenced MASON to 5 years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment and ordered that the firearm be forfeited.
According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, MASON was on parole for simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling and possession of cocaine when law enforcement authorities arrested him in January 2017 during an undercover investigation of a purchase MASON had arranged involving methamphetamine. Authorities searched the vehicle MASON was traveling in and seized, among other items, digital scales and four bags containing approximately 58.41 grams of methamphetamine and a Beretta .380 caliber pistol. While in parish prison, MASON recruited his co-defendant, Stacy Taylor, into the drug trafficking conspiracy and introduced her to James C. Hull, the head of a narcotics distribution ring involving 21 subordinate drug dealers who operated throughout the Baton Rouge area.
Taylor pled guilty to the conspiracy and was subsequesntly sentenced to 48 months imprisonment. Hull pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine base, distribution of methamphetamine and heroin, and four counts of unlawful use of communication facilities. As a result of his conviction, Hull faces a significant term of imprisonment, a fine, and a period of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, ”I want to congratulate our prosecutors and our federal, state, and local partners, whose work will ensure that this serious drug trafficker will remain behind bars for a significant period of time, and that a large drug trafficking organization is being dismantled. Keeping drugs and violence out of our communities remains a top priority of our office.”
“This is an outstanding example of law enforcement teamwork,” said DEA’s Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Arnett. “It also shows the tenacity of our law enforcement agents who, for years, continued to pursue MASON and bring him to justice and be punished for the serious crimes he committed.”
The investigation is yet another effort by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program, which was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers. Today, the OCDETF Program is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General’s drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises. The OCDETF Program operates nationwide and combines the resources and unique expertise of numerous federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated attack against major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.
These ongoing investigations were led by the Drug Enforcement Administration with invaluable assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Baton Rouge City Police Department, and the Louisiana State Police. Other agencies also assisted in apprehending the defendants, including the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the Sheriffs’ Offices in Ascension, Iberville, and West Baton Rouge Parishes. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Piedrahita and Lyman E. Thornton III.