Skip to main content
Press Release

Wilmer Man Sentenced to Ninety-Two Months Imprisonment for Mailing Suboxone Strips to Inmates in Federal Prison

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

John Robert Payne, of Wilmer, was sentenced today to ninety-two months imprisonment for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and providing contraband to a federal prisoner. The sentence was handed down by United States District Court Judge Kristi K. DuBose. Payne previously pled guilty to the offenses.

Documents filed with the court established that investigators with the Yazoo City Federal Correctional Complex (YCFCC) in Mississippi discovered that Payne mailed two letters, on two separate dates, to inmates at the prison. The envelopes contained a total of thirty-four Suboxone (Buprenorphine) strips. The first letter was mailed on August 31, 2021, to an inmate and it contained twenty strips of Suboxone. The Suboxone was hidden between two pictures. On September 21, 2021, Payne mailed a second letter into YCFCC to a different inmate containing fourteen Suboxone (Buprenorphine) strips. In this envelope, the Suboxone strips were hidden between a picture and a Walmart receipt. Suboxone (Buprenorphine) is a schedule III synthetic opioid.
Investigators also recovered a recorded telephone call from Payne to an inmate at YCFCC in which Payne and the inmate discuss a letter that Payne sent into the prison. During the same conversation, Payne discusses drugs and drug usage at YCFCC with the inmate. At the time Payne mailed the opioids to the inmates he was on supervised release with the federal probation office after serving a federal prison term for possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

U.S. Attorney Sean P. Costello praised the outstanding work of the investigators in detecting the opioid drugs and the partnering of multiple investigative agencies to bring the defendant to justice. 

This case was investigated by Investigators at the YCFCC, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys George F. May and Lawrence J. Bullard. 

Updated January 9, 2023