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Press Release

Leader of Drug Trafficking Organization Based in Lewis County, Tennessee, Sentenced to 22 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Michael Sowell, 39, of Hohenwald, Tennessee, was sentenced yesterday to 22 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, announced United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis.

In May 2023, Sowell pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute various drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine; distribution of methamphetamine; possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine; and possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

The convictions stem from Sowell’s involvement in a large-scale drug trafficking organization that was responsible for distributing substantial quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine throughout middle Tennessee between 2017 and 2020. Sowell imported heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine from California and distributed those drugs to other individuals, many of whom were also charged as part of this case. Sowell admitted that he was aware that the charged conspiracy involved at least two kilograms of heroin, at least six kilograms of cocaine, and over 33 pounds of methamphetamine.

As part of the resolution of this case, Sowell forfeited firearms and ammunition recovered from his house during the execution of a search warrant in 2019, as well as a money judgment in the amount of $200,000, which represents proceeds he obtained from his illegal drug trafficking activity.

The other individuals charged in the Superseding Indictment with Michael Sowell have all pled guilty. Frank Sparkman, 42, of Hohenwald, Tennessee, was sentenced in October 2023 to 15 years in prison; Antonio Sowell, 39, of Hohenwald, Tennessee, was sentenced in January 2024 to 15 years in prison. Charles Lowe-Kelley, 32, of Columbia, Tennessee, was sentenced in February 2024 to 15 years in prison. Antonio Laster, 33, of Nashville, Tennessee, was sentenced in August 2023 to 10 years in prison. Tanasha Vaughn, 24, of Hohenwald, Tennessee, and Darron Weakley, 37, of Nashville, Tennessee, are awaiting sentencing.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Columbia Police Department; the Hohenwald Police Department; the Spring Hill Police Department; and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert S. Levine and Nani M. Gilkerson prosecuted the case.

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Mark H. Wildasin

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney

(615) 736-2079

Updated March 8, 2024

Drug Trafficking