EAST ST. LOUIS — A Granite City man pleaded guilty Thursday to a one-count federal indictment charging him with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
In a press release Friday, U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton said Billy Joe Merchant, 42, will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 24, in federal court in East St. Louis. Merchant faces a maximum possible sentence of no more than 20 years imprisonment.
At Merchant’s change of plea hearing May 28, he admitted he possessed 34 grams of methamphetamine (approximately 1¼ ounces) on Feb. 6 at a mobile home park near Granite City. Merchant also admitted the methamphetamine seized from him had been packaged for sale in 22 individual plastic baggies, and he intended to distribute this methamphetamine in the Granite City area.
Merchant’s arrest and conviction are part of an ongoing Drug Enforcement Administration investigation into methamphetamine trafficking in Granite City. To date, a dozen meth dealers have been convicted as a result of the police operation.
Merchant has been confined in federal custody since March 3 and he will remain in custody until his sentence hearing.
The investigation was conducted by the Granite City Police Department, the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The case is assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Garrison.