Last of 18 Defendants Charged in a Birmingham-Based Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Heroin, Fentanyl, and Cocaine Sentenced
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge yesterday sentenced the last of 18 defendants charged in a 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 Adrien Hiram Taylor, aka “Slim,” 33, of Bessemer, Alabama, to life in prison and Leanthony Martez Gillins, aka “Fatman,” 35, of Bessemer, Alabama, to 232 months for managing a multi-million dollar conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana; distributing or possessing with the 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 drug trafficking crimes. Co-defendant Janaya Lenise Bibb, 36, of McCalla, Alabama was sentenced to 40 months in prison. Bibb was convicted of conspiring to distribute or possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.
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. All 18 defendants have now been sentenced. U.S. District Judge Axon sentenced the Rolando Antuain Williamson, aka “Baldhead” and “Ball Head,” 37, of Bessemer, Alabama, to life in prison plus 120 months as the Kingpin of the multi-million dollar continuing criminal enterprise on August 9, 2022, and ordered a money judgment of $36,615,000 against Williamson.
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 Birmingham-based drug trafficking network has been dismantled,” said U.S. Attorney Escalona. “We are thankful for the collaboration of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in working diligently to disrupt the pipeline of deadly drugs into our communities. These sentences should send a clear message that this type of criminal activity will not be tolerated in our district.”
“The sentencing of these three drug traffickers puts the final nail in the coffin of their drug organization,” SAC Sharp said. “I continue to be proud of the great work of the FBI’s North Alabama Safe Streets Task Force and our partners that work every day to disrupt, dismantle and destroy the criminal organizations that bring their poison and violence to our neighborhoods.”
“The sentencing of these individuals is just another step in multiple agencies working together to keep the citizens of Jefferson County safe and to further our fight to remove illegal drugs from our streets,” said Sheriff Mark Pettway.
“These convictions and sentencings of all of those involved send a strong message to the criminal element in western Jefferson County and beyond,” Bessemer Police Chief Michael Roper said. “It is my hope that other criminals will have second thoughts before they engage in this type of activity. It is time for individuals to learn that these drugs are very harmful to the community. These dangerous drugs are accompanied by other crimes in the community. I say thanks again to all of the agencies involved in this successful operation.”
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.
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.