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2 men sentenced for roles in Mississippi drug trafficking conspiracy

JACKSON, Miss. – Two Mississippi men received federal prison sentences Thursday for their roles in an extensive drug trafficking ring that distributed more than three kilograms of methamphetamine in Mississippi from 2006 until 2012. The sentences follow a multi-year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in coordination with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

Herbert J. Townsend, 31, of Forest, received a 32-year sentence followed by five years of supervised release and $11,500 in fines for conspiracy with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Townsend pleaded guilty to the charge in May.

Townsend’s co-defendant, George Johnson, 24, of Lake, received four years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $2,000 fine for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

According to court documents, Townsend led a drug trafficking organization in the Brusha community of Scott County that distributed large amounts of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine. HSI investigators received information beginning in 2005 that ultimately revealed the organization imported multiple kilograms of 90-percent pure methamphetamine from Mexico, California and Texas into Mississippi for distribution in the Brusha community.

"Methamphetamine is a cancer on countless communities that drug traffickers exploit without any regard for the violence and damage they leave in their wake," said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "The ongoing partnership between federal and state officials to identify and bring these criminals to justice is one of our most important priorities."

Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility including Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.

In addition to large quantities of illegal drugs, investigators seized approximately 20 firearms and more than $15,000 in U.S. currency during the investigation. Federal prosecutors indicted 15 members of the drug ring in October 2012 for conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected narcotics and weapon smuggling violations by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.