Final defendant in East Texas narcotics trafficking conspiracy sentenced

Jackson Cutler

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TYLER, TEXAS — Acting United States Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei stated on June 17 that the last defendant in a narcotics trafficking conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas had been sentenced to federal prison.

Amber Nicole Priehs, 30, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin on December 12, 2019, and was sentenced today by US District Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle to 80 months in federal prison.

“The imprisonment of this drug trafficking organization is a significant victory for the citizens of Palestine and the rest of East Texas,” said Acting US 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 evidence given in court, Priehs and his co-conspirators, Byron Bernard Billups and Brandon Williams, disseminated substantial amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin in Palestine and the surrounding areas.

Billups functioned as the organization’s commander and a principal source of supply, collaborating with Priehs and others to get kilos of methamphetamine and other drugs from various sources across Texas and transporting them to East Texas for distribution.

Brandon Williams operated wholesale and retail methamphetamine, cocaine, and ecstasy distribution business out of his house in Palestine. He lived there with his uncle, Larry Williams, who also aided with customer service.

Priehs sold bulk methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin to consumers directly or through Marcos Navarro, who worked for Priehs. Priehs also persuaded Steve Foster to keep bulk drugs at his home, which he also allowed Priehs to use for client meetings.

On February 20, 2019, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging all the defendants of federal drug trafficking offenses.

Brandon Williams, 37, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine on September 21, 2020, and on March 25, 2021, was sentenced to 216 months in federal prison.

Larry Joe Williams, 65, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony on March 9, 2020, and received a sentence of 36 months in federal prison on October 13, 2020.

Byron Bernard Billups, 36, pleaded guilty to narcotics conspiracy on July 14, 2020, and was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison on December 17, 2020.

Steve Allen Foster, 33, pleaded guilty to narcotics conspiracy on March 16, 2020, and was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison on September 15, 2020.

Marcos Antonio Navarro, 35, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine on March 12, 2020, and was sentenced on August 11, 2020, to 60 months in federal prison.

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