Final person in Anderson County drug trafficking ring sentenced to prison

Crime & Public Safety

TYLER, Texas (KETK) — The final person who federal authorities say was part of a major drug ring based in Palestine is going to federal prison.

Amber Nicole Priehs, 30, of Palestine, who earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin and was sentenced to 80 months in prison Thursday by a federal judge in Tyler.

In all, six people have been sentenced in a drug ring that federal authorities say took in a large amount of meth, cocaine and other illegal drugs from all across Texas and sold them to buyers in East Texas.

Others who have been sentenced are:

  • Brandon Kione Williams, 37, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 216 months in federal prison in March. 
  • Larry Joe Williams, 65, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony and was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison in October 2020. 
  • Byron Bernard Billups, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison in December 2020. 
  • Marcos Antonio Navarro, 35, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison in August 2020. 
  • Steve Allen Foster, 33, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison in September 2020.

According to information presented in court, Billups, Brandon Williams, and Priehs distributed large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin in Palestine and surrounding areas. 

“Billups served as the leader and primary source of supply and worked with Priehs and others to acquire kilos of methamphetamine and other drugs from sources of supply across Texas and brought them back to East Texas for distribution,” said information from federal prosecutors.

Brandon Williams distributed bulk methamphetamine, cocaine, and ecstasy to wholesale and retail customers from his home in Palestine, which he shared with his uncle, Larry Williams, who also assisted with handling customers in the drug deals.

Priehs distributed bulk methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin directly to customers and through Marcos Navarro, who reported to Priehs.  Priehs also recruited Steve Foster to store bulk drugs at his house, which he also permitted Priehs to use to meet customers, said information from prosecutors.  

A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging the defendants with federal drug trafficking violations on Feb. 20, 2019.

“The imprisonment of this drug trafficking organization is a significant victory for the citizens of Palestine and the rest of East Texas,” said Acting U.S. 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.”

The investigation and prosecution was an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces operation. It was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Texas Department of Public Safety-CID and Palestine Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Locker, Colleen Bloss, and Heather H. Rattan, prosecuted those involved.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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