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Press Release

Leader Of Birmingham Heroin And Cocaine Drug Ring Sentenced To 22 Years

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced the leader of one of Birmingham’s largest heroin and cocaine trafficking rings to nearly 22 years in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein, Jr., IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot, and Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale.

U.S.  District Judge Sharon L. Blackburn sentenced BILLY WILLIAMS, JR., 41, to 262 months in prison for his role in leading one of Birmingham’s largest heroin and cocaine trafficking rings.  Williams pleaded guilty in December 2013 to participating in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and to various other drug charges, including using a telephone to traffic drugs and money laundering.

Williams and nine others were originally charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distributing heroin, cocaine, and other drugs in a 41-count May 2013 federal grand jury indictment.  A superseding indictment in October 2013 removed one defendant and added two.  In addition to being charged in the conspiracy, various defendants were also charged with distributing drugs and laundering money.

“The drug trafficking organization Billy Williams, Jr., led was a significant contributor to our heroin epidemic,” Vance said. “This conviction of these eleven heroin traffickers is a great example of how cooperation between federal and local law enforcement can lead to dismantling significant drug-trafficking organizations that are killing our children.”

“Heroin is a highly dangerous and addictive drug being sold on our streets,” Vance said. “Law enforcement efforts must and will continue to focus heavily on suppressing the supply of this extremely dangerous drug and supporting the development of a community wide plan that tackles prevention and addiction treatment along with law enforcement.”

“This case is a model of law enforcement coming together to identify and eliminate the criminal element. I would  like to personally thank the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and other members of the FBI’s North Alabama Safe Streets Task Force, as well as IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, and ATF for their hard work in bringing these drug traffickers to justice and making our community a safer place,” said Schwein.

“The role of IRS Criminal Investigation in narcotics investigations is to follow the money and financially disrupt major drug trafficking organizations. This has been illustrated in the financial investigation and subsequent prosecution of Billy Williams, Jr.,” stated IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot.  “We will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate individuals that engage in organized drug activity and money laundering offenses.”

 The investigation focused on Williams, a large-scale heroin and cocaine distributor in west-end Birmingham, and his network of operators.  For over a year, using a variety of sophisticated law enforcement techniques, the FBI gathered intelligence exposing Williams’ extensive drug trafficking operation.  The investigation culminated in the January 25, 2013, arrest of SAMMUEL DEWAYNE GULLEY, a key member of Williams’ organization, who was arrested in possession of two kilograms of nearly pure heroin following a high-speed chase with Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies.  Later that night, agents seized over one and a half kilograms of cocaine from a home associated with Williams and Gulley.  During his arrest in late May of 2013, Williams threw over $60,000 in cash out of the window of his 12th floor condo at City Federal.  From the condo, agents recovered over $166,000 in cash and over $177,000 in jewelry and other valuables.

Others sentenced today were ABE JOHNSON, 51, who received a 54-month sentence, MARION REYNOLDS, Jr., 53, who was sentenced to 48 months, and WALTER JOHNSON, 48, who was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison.  Three weeks ago, Judge Blackburn sentenced DEANDRE MURRELL, 28, to a 20- year prison term and Sammuel Gulley, 29, to a 10- year term of incarceration.  Also sentenced at that time were GRADY JENKINS, 47, who received a 37-month sentence and VERNON MCADORY, 39, who was imprisoned for a term of six months custody and six months home confinement.  PRENTICE TANNIEHILL, was sentenced to 4 months in prison for his role in assisting Williams in laundering money and for causing false IRS forms to be filed.

The prosecution led to the forfeiture of large amounts of cash, three vehicles valued at over $200,000, and eight money judgments of $5 million were levied against the defendants.  The FBI, IRS Criminal Investigations, the Birmingham Police Department, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Dimler prosecuted the case.

Updated March 19, 2015