Kingpin Sentenced to Life in Prison plus 120 Months for Leading a Birmingham-Based Continuing Criminal Enterprise and Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Heroin, Fentanyl, and Cocaine
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge sentenced a Bessemer man charged under the “Kingpin” statute for leading a continuing criminal enterprise and large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr., and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Atlanta Field Office Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey.
United States District Judge Annmarie C. Axon sentenced Rolando Antuain Williamson, aka “Baldhead” and “Ball Head,” 37, of Bessemer, Alabama, to life in prison plus 120 months for leading a multi-million dollar continuing criminal enterprise; conspiring to distribute or possess with intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana; distributing or possession with intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana; using, carrying, or possessing a firearm during or in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and using a communication facility to commit a drug trafficking crime.
Two codefendants in the drug conspiracy were also sentenced by Judge Axon. Ishmywel Calid Gregory, also known as “C,” 38, of Mulga, Alabama, was sentenced to 480 months in prison, and Hendarius Lamar Archie, also known as “Hen,” 33, of Bessemer, Alabama, was sentenced to 169 months. Gregory and Archie were convicted of conspiring to distribute or possess with intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. Both Gregory and Archie were also convicted of distributing or possessing with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. Archie was also convicted of using, carrying, or possessing a firearm during or in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
On April 18, 2022, after a week-long trial, a jury convicted Williamson, Gregory, Archie, and a fourth co-defendant of the charges.
A total of eighteen people were charged in the indictment returned on October 29, 2019. The indictment was the result of a three-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation into the drug-trafficking enterprise based in Western Jefferson County. The task force identified acts in furtherance of the conspiracy committed by members of the organization over a period of six years. Fifteen of the defendants have now been sentenced, and three remaining defendants await sentencing later this month.
The OCDETF agencies involved in this investigation are the FBI, IRS, member agencies of the FBI North Alabama Safe Streets Task Force, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bessemer Police Department.
The North Alabama Safe Streets Task Force arrested Williamson the morning of August 22, 2019, in the parking lot of a grocery store located in Homewood, Alabama. Williamson was driving a 2016 Dodge Hellcat worth $80,000. At the time of arrest, Williamson was armed two loaded pistols, additional loaded magazines, and was carrying almost $14,000 in cash. All other members of the conspiracy were arrested on or about November 13, 2019.
At the time of Williamson’s arrest, law enforcement officers seized from him and three of his stash houses, 366 grams of heroin/fentanyl, 109 grams of suspected cocaine, 573 grams of pure methamphetamine, 52 kilos of marijuana, over $97,000 in cash, multiple firearms, and over 1700 rounds of ammunition.
“As a result of the sustained and extensive investigation by our many law enforcement partners, this drug kingpin will spend the rest of his life in prison,” said U.S. Attorney Escalona. “It is difficult to imagine the harm to the community caused by this criminal enterprise. The addictions and other adverse health consequences, the economic harm, and the associated violence of drug trafficking will hopefully come to an end after these prosecutions. We are grateful and proud of the excellent work of this team of law enforcement professionals.”
“With this term of imprisonment, Williamson’s days as an international drug kingpin are over, and it is a decisive blow against the drug trafficking network. This was a team effort with our law enforcement partners, and I am proud of the work of the FBI’s North Alabama Safe Streets Task Force to bring members of this drug enterprise to justice,” said FBI SAC Johnnie Sharp.
“Great job by the investigators. These criminals were responsible for a major amount of drugs flowing through Jefferson County. These convictions are huge in our fight against illegal drugs,” said Sheriff Mark Pettway.
“First, I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to all agencies involved in the investigation and ultimate convictions of those involved in this major drug distribution criminal enterprise. This is an example of what can be accomplished when agencies work together. It is our hope that these convictions will send a strong message to others that are committing or thinking about committing like crimes in Bessemer and surrounding areas. The Bessemer Police Department will remain committed to working with our Federal, State and local Law Enforcement partners to apprehend and convict other drug traffickers that attempt to operate in the City of Bessemer and surrounding areas,” said Bessemer Police Chief Michael Roper.
Forfeiture was obtained for two of Williamson’s high-end vehicles: a $46,000 Ford F-250 King’s Ranch and $37,000 Cadillac Escalade; over $100,000 dollars in cash; $45,000 in jewelry; and all firearms and ammunition used to facilitate the drug trafficking enterprise. Additionally, the United States proved $36,615,000 in gross proceeds against Williamson, and $4,000,700 in gross proceeds against Gregory.
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.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service investigated the case along with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Bessemer Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan S. Cross and Gregory R. Dimler prosecuted the case.