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Charlotte felon sentenced to 60 years for drug, firearm offenses

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The leader of a large-scale drug trafficking organization was sentenced to 60 years in prison Wednesday following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Parker Antron Coleman, 28, of Charlotte was sentenced to 30 years in prison for marijuana trafficking and money laundering, plus a consecutive 30 years for firearms offenses, announced U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins. He must also serve 10 years of supervised release after he is released from prison.

"Coleman trafficked tons of marijuana into Charlotte and profited from spreading drugs in the city he grew up in. Today's sentence is the capstone to a multi-year international drug trafficking investigation that has dismantled a major drug organization and has landed over 60 defendants in federal prison," said Tompkins.

"As the head of a significant drug trafficking organization in Charlotte, the defendant controlled the smuggling and distribution of large amounts of marijuana," said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of HSI Atlanta, who oversees agency investigations in Georgia and the Carolinas. "Working with great partners and teamwork under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force model, HSI special agents and Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers have disrupted and dismantled this cell and crippled their operations in North Carolina and California."

"I commend our agency partners for all their hard work and diligence in helping to dismantle and disrupt drug trafficking activities between here and California," said Chief Rodney Monroe, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. "With the turn of events, there is now one less drug trafficking organization plaguing our community."

According to evidence presented at his trial and other court records, Coleman was the head of a drug trafficking conspiracy that transported and distributed more than four tons of marijuana in the Charlotte area. Court records indicate that Coleman's suppliers were linked to California-based members of the "Mexican Mafia" drug trafficking organization. According to trial evidence and filed court documents, the drug organization had couriers who used commercial flights to travel between the two states, each time transporting approximately $50,000 in cash to California, and returning to Charlotte with approximately 100 pounds of marijuana in checked baggage. An accomplice working at the airport in California assisted the couriers with passing their luggage containing the drugs through airport security. Coleman convinced friends and family members, among others, to act as couriers for him, as well as his own probation officer, who became a lieutenant in his drug organization. Trial evidence demonstrated that couriers for the organization made more than 100 roundtrips.

Court records indicate that Nov. 2, 2010, law enforcement recovered $117,595 at the airport from two of Coleman's couriers and approximately 30 pounds of marijuana from the South Park residence of one of Coleman's co-conspirators. Upon executing a search warrant on the same day, law enforcement also recovered $92,577 in cash, a semi-automatic handgun, large quantities of drug trafficking paraphernalia and money laundering evidence from Coleman's residence. Coleman initially denied owning the residence however, law enforcement recovered information that tied the property to the defendant, including business records, photographs, and exotic fish and aquarium equipment worth more than $15,000.

On Nov. 16, 2010, law enforcement arrested Coleman and seized two handguns hidden in a secret compartment in Coleman's luxury SUV. Coleman is a convicted felon and is therefore prohibited from carrying or owning a firearm.

Coleman's prosecution stems from Operation Goldilocks, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation that began in January 2009 and has resulted in the federal prosecution of approximately 70 individuals involved in the drug conspiracy.

Coleman's sentence was enhanced due to prior felony convictions. He has been in local federal custody since his November 2010 arrest and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a facility. Federal sentences are served without parole.