Two Colbert County Men Plead Guilty to Shipping Meth Via U.S. Mail
BIRMINGHAM – A Colbert County man pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to charges related to an attempt to ship about a pound of methamphetamine from Los Angeles to the Colbert County town of Leighton using the U.S. Mail, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez.
VENNIS MINOSA OATES Jr., 33, of Leighton, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of attempted possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Oates is scheduled for sentencing April 6 in Huntsville.
A second Colbert County man charged in the case, KEELAN SHUNTEZ ROBINSON, 23, of Muscle Shoals, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 26, also in Huntsville.
Oates and Robinson both were arrested in Leighton in January 2016 after they arrived at the U.S. Post Office in Leighton to pick up a suspicious package. Oates drove Robinson to the post office and waited in the car while Robinson went inside and received the package, according to Oates’ plea agreement.
U.S. postal inspectors and members of the Colbert County Drug Task Force and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency were monitoring retrieval of the package after a resident at the address listed on the parcel initially refused its delivery. The resident said no one named Jeff Hawkins, the package’s listed recipient, lived at the Marthaler Lane address, according to Oates’ plea agreement. After the refused delivery, a postal inspector determined that neither the sender’s name nor the recipient’s name could be associated with either the California shipping address or the Leighton delivery address, and someone identifying himself as “Jeremy” began calling the Leighton Post Office inquiring about picking up the package, according to the plea agreement.
Following Oates’ and Robinson’s arrests, police obtained a search warrant authorizing them to open the package and found it contained about a pound of methamphetamine and about two pounds of marijuana. Postal inspectors subsequently analyzed inbound and outbound packages with destination addresses similar to the Leighton methamphetamine package and identified 14 inbound and two outbound packages, according to the plea agreement. Oates packaged large amounts of cash and shipped it to California to pay for the illegal drugs, the plea agreement said.
The maximum penalty for the conspiracy and distribution charges are 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
The Postal Inspection Service, Colbert County Drug Task Force and the ALEA State Bureau of Investigation investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Felton is prosecuting.