Meth-mailer gets 8 years
BIRMINGHAM — A federal judge sentenced a Colbert County man to more than eight years in prison for drug distribution that included an attempt to ship methamphetamine from Los Angeles to the Colbert County town of Leighton using the U.S. Mail, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey and U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez.
U.S. District Court Judge Abdul K. Kallon sentenced Vennis Minosa Oates Jr., 33, of Leighton, to eight years and four months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Oates is already in custody. Oates pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and one count of attempted possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
A second Colbert County man, Keelan Shuntez Robinson, 23, of Muscle Shoals, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Judge Kallon sentenced Robinson in January to 1½ years in prison.
Oates and Robinson both were arrested in Leighton in January 2016 after they arrived at the U.S. post office there to pick up a suspicious package. Oates drove Robinson to the post office and waited in the car while Robinson went inside to get the package, according to Oates’ plea.
U.S. postal inspectors and members of the Colbert County Drug Task Force and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency were monitoring retrieval of the package after a resident at the address listed on the parcel initially refused its delivery. The resident said no one named Jeff Hawkins, the package’s listed recipient, lived at the Marthaler Lane address.
After the refused delivery, a postal inspector determined that neither the sender’s name nor the recipient’s name could be associated with either the California shipping address or the Leighton delivery address, and someone identifying himself as “Jeremy” began calling the Leighton Post Office inquiring about picking up the package, according to Oates’ plea.
Following Oates’ and Robinson’s arrests, police obtained a search warrant to open the package. It contained about a pound of methamphetamine and about two pounds of marijuana. Postal inspectors subsequently analyzed inbound and outbound packages with destination addresses similar to the Leighton methamphetamine package and identified 14 inbound and two outbound packages, according to court documents. Oates packaged large amounts of cash and shipped it to California to pay for the illegal drugs, according to his plea.