3 sentenced to prison for conspiracy to traffic meth

From Staff Reports
Posted 4/28/17

Three Walker County residents received federal prison sentences this month for conspiring to traffic methamphetamine, Walker County Sheriff Jim Underwood announced Thursday.

Evan Andrew Norris, 39, of Thach, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Connie Hallmark Batchelor, 44, of Pineywoods was sentenced to eight years and four months. Allen M. Morgan, 35, of Pineywoods, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison.

Lamar Wayne Owen, 54, of Curry is currently awaiting sentencing.

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3 sentenced to prison for conspiracy to traffic meth

Posted

Three Walker County residents received federal prison sentences this month for conspiring to traffic methamphetamine, Walker County Sheriff Jim Underwood announced Thursday.

Evan Andrew Norris, 39, of Thach, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Connie Hallmark Batchelor, 44, of Pineywoods was sentenced to eight years and four months. Allen M. Morgan, 35, of Pineywoods, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison.

Lamar Wayne Owen, 54, of Curry is currently awaiting sentencing.

Underwood said his department’s Narcotics Division conducted an eight-month investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration of a group suspected of trafficking 40 to 50 kilos of meth ICE valued at more than $1 million in Walker County over the last several years.

The meth ring was operating in Pineywoods, Curry and Thach, with the hub located on Old Pineywoods Road.

Underwood said kilos of meth were brought from Birmingham to Pineywoods and then redistributed to other dealers in Walker and surrounding counties.

The sheriff’s office has made several hundred felony drug distribution cases in the past four years, according to Underwood.

“Rather than simply arresting drug users, I’ve prioritized making distribution cases on those that sell drugs. This has resulted in substantially more dealers being arrested in the last two years than the previous five years before that combined,” Underwood said.

He added that the department has a narcotics investigator assigned to the DEA office in Birmingham, which allows the department to use federal resources to target those that serve as suppliers to low-level dealers.

According to court records, Norris and Batchelor were both arrested in June 2016, and Owen was arrested in April 2016.

Underwood said the arrests came as a result of search warrants, undercover buys, arrest warrants, vehicle pursuits and other tools.

“These investigations are time-consuming but can result in a greater effect on reducing drug trafficking in our county. It is a continual process as these dealerrs will try and find a new source of supply after theirs is taken down and sent to prison,” Underwood said.

Norris, Batchelor and Morgan were among seven people from Jefferson, Walker, Marion and Franklin counties sentenced the week of April 20 by U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor for conspiring to traffic methamphetamine across northwest

Alabama, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham.

Also sentenced were Kevin Wayne Blackburn, 44, of Russellville, Gregory Keith King, 35 of Hodges, Jeffery Douglas Dunaway, 29, of Bear Creek and Gladys Ivette Rodriguez-Valle, 34, of Pinson.

Rodriguez-Valle pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in December. According to the press release, she acknowledged leading the operation by sending couriers to Atlanta to buy multiple kilograms of methamphetamine between January 2015 and June 2016 for her and her co-defendants to distribute.

“These federal sentences are important because unlike state prison sentences, those with federal sentences typically serve 85 percent to 88 percent of their sentences,” Underwood said.