TYLER, Texas – The final defendant has been sentenced to federal prison in a drug trafficking conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.
Amber Nicole Priehs, 30, pleaded guilty on Dec. 12, 2019, to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, and was sentenced to 80 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle. Priehs was the sixth and final Palestine, Texas resident to be sentenced in the drug trafficking conspiracy.
“The imprisonment of this drug trafficking organization is a significant victory for the citizens of Palestine and the rest of East Texas,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “Our office will continue to pursue those who pump poison and misery into our communities. These defendants showed an utter lack of regard for their fellow citizens by lining their own pockets off of addiction and the decay of their own community.”
According to information presented in court, Byron Bernard Billups, Brandon Williams, and Priehs distributed large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin in Palestine and surrounding areas. Billups served as the leader and primary source of supply and worked with Priehs and others to acquire kilos of methamphetamine and other drugs from sources of supply across Texas and brought them back to East Texas for distribution. Brandon Williams distributed bulk methamphetamine, cocaine, and ecstasy to wholesale and retail customers from his home in Palestine, which he shared with his uncle, Larry Williams, who also assisted with handling customers in the drug deals. Priehs distributed bulk methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin directly to customers and through Marcos Navarro, who reported to Priehs. Priehs also recruited Steve Foster to store bulk drugs at his house, which he also permitted Priehs to use to meet customers. A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging the defendants with federal drug trafficking violations on Feb. 20, 2019.
Brandon Kione Williams, 37, pleaded guilty on Sep. 21, 2020, to conspiracy to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 216 months in federal prison on March 25, 2021. Larry Joe Williams, 65, pleaded guilty on March 9, 2020, to misprision of a felony and was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison on Oct. 13, 2020. Byron Bernard Billups, 36, pleaded guilty on July 14, 2020, to conspiracy to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison on Dec. 17, 2020.
Marcos Antonio Navarro, 35, pleaded guilty on March 12, 2020, to conspiracy to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison on August 11, 2020. Steve Allen Foster, 33, pleaded guilty on March 16, 2020, to conspiracy to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison on Sep. 15, 2020.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Texas Department of Public Safety-CID, and the Palestine Police Department. These defendants were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Locker, Colleen Bloss, and Heather H. Rattan.
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