EAST ST. LOUIS — A Granite City man was sentenced Thursday, Dec. 17, to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
In a press release, Acting U.S. Attorney James L. Porter said Billy Joe Merchant, 43, pleaded guilty to the federal charge on May 8 in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. In his plea, Merchant admitted he possessed approximately 30 grams of unusually pure crystal “ice” methamphetamine at his Granite City mobile home on Feb. 6. Merchant also admitted that he had intended to sell the methamphetamine. That form of meth often sells for up to $100 per gram.
Merchant has been in federal custody since March 3. When he is released from his federal prison sentence, Merchant will also have to complete a term of three years of supervised release.
Merchant’s arrest and prosecution was one part of a joint federal-state law enforcement initiative to address the problem of methamphetamine distribution in the Granite City area. Evidence in support of this prosecution was obtained in an investigation conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. The initiative is designed to bring federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and resources together to identify, target and dismantle large drug trafficking organizations.
The investigation leading to Merchant’s conviction was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois and the Granite City Police Department.