ALEXANDRIA, La. – Seven members of a drug trafficking conspiracy in the Natchitoches, Louisiana area have all been sentenced, announced United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown. United States District Judge Dee D. Drell sentenced all of the defendants for conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. The last remaining one was sentenced on December 22, 2023. The names of those defendants and their sentences are as follows:
James Christopher Weeks, 51, of Montgomery, Louisiana, was sentenced to 360 months (20 years) in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release. Weeks pleaded guilty to the charge on October 14, 2022.
Savannah Maria Weeks, 31, of Arcadia, Louisiana, was sentenced to 78 months (6 years, 6 months) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. S. Weeks pleaded guilty to the charge on June 29, 2022.
Eric Joseph Sandifer, 36, of Pineville, Louisiana, was sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Sandifer pleaded guilty to the charge on November 29, 2022.
Ashley Danielle Dowden, 39, of Natchitoches, Louisiana, was sentenced to 96 months (8 years) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Dowden pleaded guilty to the charge on August 3, 2022.
Candiace Shree Bronson, 39, of Alexandria, Louisiana, was sentenced to 78 months (6 years, 6 months) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Bronson pleaded guilty to the charge on September 26, 2022.
Louis Vernon Jackson, 39, of Natchitoches, was sentenced to 360 months (30 years) in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release. Jackson was the only defendant who went to trial and was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, felon in possession of firearms and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, by a jury in April 2023.
Adam James Johnson, 41, of Natchitoches, was sentenced to 235 months (19 years, 7 months) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Johnson pleaded guilty to the charge on March 16, 2023.
In early March 2020, agents with the Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force (“NMJDTF”) received information regarding a group of individuals selling large amounts of methamphetamine in the Natchitoches area. Law enforcement agents began an investigation into these illegal drug trafficking activities and learned that James Weeks, his daughter, Savannah Weeks, Adam Johnson, Louis Jackson, and Eric Sandifer, were major methamphetamine distributors in northwest Louisiana. Dowden and Bronson were working closely with them in this drug trafficking organization. Through their investigation, agents conducted surveillance of these defendants on numerous occasions and in both Natchitoches and Alexandria, Louisiana. They were also able to obtain information from other sources as to the drug trafficking activities of these defendants.
Through their investigation, agents learned that J. Weeks, who was serving a 192-month imprisonment sentence in the Yazoo City Medium federal prison facility on a Western District of Louisiana drug conspiracy conviction, was conducting drug trafficking operations from the federal prison facility. J. Weeks was communicating through Facebook Messenger with S. Weeks, Johnson, and other co-conspirators about methamphetamine trafficking. On March 26, 2020, a K9 utilized by HSI-Riverside, California, alerted on a package at the San Bernardino, California, shipping facility destined to J. Weeks’ mother and daughter, S. Weeks, in Arcadia, Louisiana. A state search warrant was obtained, and six pounds of methamphetamine were recovered. J. Weeks admitted to agents that he had met a methamphetamine source of supply through another inmate in prison and that he was involved in the package being sent to his mother’s residence. J. Weeks introduced these sources to Johnson, who purchased the methamphetamine from them on several occasions.
In March 2020, agents conducted surveillance on Johnson’s home in Natchitoches and observed Dowden arrive and enter the residence. Shortly thereafter, both Dowden and Johnson left in separate vehicles. They were subsequently stopped for a traffic violation and agents recovered suspected drugs in Dowden’s possession. A search warrant was also later executed at Johnson’s residence which resulted in the discovery of approximately 3,720 grams of methamphetamine in the attic of Johnson’s home. Dowden hid two large bags containing the suspected methamphetamine in the attic at the direction of Johnson and also took trips to Dallas with him to retrieve the methamphetamine in exchange for large amounts of cash. A chemical analysis conducted by the North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory determined the substance was in fact methamphetamine, having a total net weight of 3,716.7 grams and ranging between 89.4 and 98.4% purity level.
On March 3, 2020, while on supervised probation by Louisiana State Probation and Parole, Sandifer was arrested on a drug charge out of Oklahoma. Officers responded to his residence and found Sandifer who advised that there was methamphetamine in the vehicle in his yard and he admitted that he had been using the vehicle for several weeks. A search warrant was obtained and executed, and officers seized approximately 127 grams of actual methamphetamine, a digital scale, and baggies from inside the vehicle. Sandifer also had messages on his cell phone in which he was communicating with Johnson regarding methamphetamine trafficking in Natchitoches.
During their investigation, agents conducted surveillance at the Motel 6 in Natchitoches and the Best Western in Alexandria. On April 16, 2020, they observed Jackson pull into the parking lot of the Motel 6 and then depart the property. Agents obtained search warrants on those rooms which yielded 34 Tramadol pills, a Marlin rifle; model: 336CS; caliber: 30-30, a SCCY pistol; model: CPX-1, and several pieces of paperwork with Bronson’s name. On May 13, 2020, agents observed S. Weeks and a male arrive at the Best Western hotel and enter a room. S. Weeks departed and was subsequently pulled over in a traffic stop. Agents seized approximately 132 grams of actual methamphetamine from her, and it was confirmed to be actual methamphetamine.
A search warrant was obtained and executed on the Best Western hotel room, where Bronson and Jackson were present. Agents seized approximately 498 grams of methamphetamine, $11,300 in U.S. currency, and a purse belonging to Bronson. Bronson and Jackson were subsequently arrested. A chemical analysis was conducted on the suspected narcotics by the North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory and determined the substances seized from S. Weeks and the Best Western hotel room were in fact methamphetamine, having a net weight of 132.7 grams with 89.9% purity and 498.2 grams with 92.7% purity level, respectively.
“The successful investigation by the local and federal law enforcement agents in this case has resulted in over 20 pounds of methamphetamine being taken off the streets of northwest Louisiana,” stated U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown. “These types of investigations take a lot of hard work and man hours to develop, and our communities are much safer after getting these bad actors off the streets. I commend the efforts of these local and federal partners and we will continue to prosecute those who choose to traffic drugs in our district.”
“This investigation, and its subsequent successful prosecutions, were the result of a complete law enforcement team effort,” stated Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Stuart Wright. “The Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force invested significant resources over the past three years and joined with other sheriff’s offices and federal law enforcement partners to take action and remove over 600 grams of methamphetamine from our community. And seven narcotics distributors are now in prison as a result of their dangerous criminal activity."
“We appreciate the diligent and ongoing effort of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in prosecuting these cases in federal court,” stated Natchitoches Parish District Attorney Billy Jo Harrington. “Some of the defendants, including Johnson, are also facing charges in Natchitoches Parish. I also commend our local law enforcement agencies for their hard work and effort in removing illegal narcotics from our parish."
This case was investigated by the Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force (NMJDTF), Department of Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, ATF, Natchitoches City Police, and Rapides Area Drug Enforcement (RADE) Unit, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cytheria D. Jernigan and Brian C. Flanagan and United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown.
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