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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 29, 2015

Granite City Man Pleads Guilty To Meth Distribution Charge

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today that Billy Joe Merchant, age 42, pled guilty on Thursday, May 28, 2015 to a one-count federal indictment charging him with Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute.

Merchant’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 24, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois. Merchant faces a maximum possible sentence of no more than 20 years imprisonment.

At Merchant’s change of plea hearing on May 28, Merchant admitted that he had possessed 34 grams of methamphetamine (approximately 1¼ ounces) at a mobile home trailer park near Granite City, Illinois on February 6, 2015. Merchant also admitted that the methamphetamine seized from him had been packaged for sale in 22 individual plastic baggies, and that Merchant had intended to distribute this methamphetamine in the Granite City area.

Merchant’s arrest and conviction are part of an ongoing DEA investigation into methamphetamine trafficking in Granite City. To date, a dozen meth dealers have been convicted as a result of the police operation.

Merchant has been confined in federal custody since March 3, 2015, and he will remain in custody until his sentence hearing.

The investigation which resulted in Merchant’s arrest and conviction was conducted by the Granite City Police Department; the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois (MEGSI); and by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Robert L. Garrison.

Updated May 29, 2015