GULFPORT, Miss. – A Mississippi man was sentenced to six years in federal prison Wednesday for his role in a plot to distribute Mexican methamphetamine in southern Mississippi through the mail. The sentence is the result of a two year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in coordination with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN).
Billy Paul Lee, 35, of Carriere, Miss., joins five co-conspirators sentenced last week. Glenn Bonano Jr., 25, of Waveland, Miss., was sentenced Nov. 6 to more than 25 years in federal prison. Glenn Bonano Sr., 50, of Waveland, received a 10 year sentence. Trevor Aaron Cook, 22, of Waveland, was sentenced Nov. 7 to 4 1/2 years. Gavin Miles Meranto, 23, and Vincent LeBlanc III, 28, of Bay St. Louis, Miss., were sentenced Nov. 5 to 10 years and 4 1/2 years, respectively.
Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans, said, "the boldness shown by the defendants to distribute dangerous illegal drugs via the mail illustrates a shocking disregard for public safety and seriously underestimated the dedication of HSI and its law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute criminal activity." Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility including Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.
"Narcotics in the U.S. mail tarnish the U.S. Postal Service's brand and place postal employees in harm's way. Disrupting a drug trafficking organization as brazen as the defendants' demonstrates the relentless efforts of postal inspectors and our unwavering determination in pursuit of justice." said Keith Morris, inspector in charge of USPIS's Atlanta Division.
According to court documents, USPIS identified and seized a parcel from Mexico containing methamphetamine destined for Glenn Bonano Jr. HSI's Border Enforcement Security Taskforce (BEST) subsequently uncovered a two year drug distribution conspiracy involving nine defendants. The defendants were each indicted in February and pleaded guilty in August. Three defendants have yet to be sentenced. The cases were prosecuted by the Southern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Methamphetamine trafficking is a serious crime that demands a serious response," said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis. "Those who choose to bring this powerful, dangerous and addictive drug into our communities are a major threat to the safety and well-being of our citizens. I commend the multi-agency law enforcement work that produced justice in this case."
BEST-Gulfport is a Department of Homeland Security initiative designed as a multi-agency response to address national security and other law enforcement concerns affecting the Gulf Coast. It is comprised of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, and several state and local law enforcement agencies from Mississippi. BEST members are co-located so that they can effectively share information. Close coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies helps to identify and eliminate cross-border criminal organizations such as alien and drug smuggling networks and the infrastructures that sustain them.