Member of large drug trafficking organization sentenced to over 10 years in federal prison
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Drug Enforcement Administration yesterday announced that a member of a large drug trafficking organization was sentenced. Byron A. Lawson, age 40, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was sentenced as part of Operation Hidden Fee, an extensive federal, state, and local investigation by the Middle District Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force aimed at a drug trafficking network based and operating in Baton Rouge. A Chief Judge sentenced Lawson to over 10 years (125 months) in federal prison following his convictions of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine base; distribution of methamphetamine and crack cocaine; and unlawful use of a communications facility. Lawson must also serve five years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.
According to admissions Lawson made as part of his guilty plea, in 2017, the DEA and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office were investigating the drug trafficking activities of James C. Hull. During this investigation, they learned that Lawson was one of Hull’s suppliers of methamphetamine. Investigators gathered information that, on the average, Lawson supplied Hull, four to six ounces of methamphetamine on a weekly basis. Law enforcement agents also identified Michael Nelson, another customer, who received ounce amounts of methamphetamine from Lawson. During this investigation, agents identified Travis James as a source of cocaine and crack cocaine for Lawson. In one instance, James supplied Lawson over 500 grams of cocaine, which Lawson distributed later to two customers from Mississippi.
"With this conviction and sentencing, DEA and its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners have taken down a member of a drug trafficking organization responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine in the Middle District of Louisiana," said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael R. Sader. "These illegal dangerous drugs are destructive poisons that threaten the health and safety of our communities. We will continue to work together to target criminal organizations to ensure that drug traffickers are held responsible for the harm they cause."
Nelson has pending methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking charges in the Middle District of Louisiana. Trial has not yet been set. A grand jury indicted Travis James for various cocaine and heroin related violations and his trial is set in April 2020.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “Stopping organized drug dealers who spread their poison throughout our community is among the highest priorities of this office and the United States Department of Justice. Convictions and jail sentences such as this are made possible through the dedicated teamwork of our federal, state, and local partners. I want to thank them all for their efforts in this case.”
This investigation was led by the DEA with invaluable assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Baton Rouge City Police Department, and the Louisiana State Police. Other agencies also assisted in apprehending the defendants, including the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the Sheriffs’ Offices in Ascension, Iberville, and West Baton Rouge Parishes.
Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.