In this case, 17 defendants were accused of being part of the drug conspiracy from Jan. 1, 2010, through Dec. 13, 2011.
Initial accusations became public in November 2011, with a new indictment issued Feb. 22 and the first guilty plea on July 26.
The 17 are accused with James Evans, 30, of Okolona and others of seeking to establish a cocaine distribution network in Chickasaw, Union and Monroe counties.
Walter “Big Moot” Hampton, who was first accused of involvement in cocaine trafficking in July 2011, pleaded guilty Nov. 5 to one count of conspiracy to distribute more than 11 pounds of a mixture containing cocaine and one count of money laundering.
In accusations against him, Hampton was accused of being the key buyer of the cocaine to sell to others.
Hampton, 34, of Okolona faced up to 70 years in prison if convicted of three counts of conspiracy and two of money laundering.
His guilty plea deal agrees to a possible sentence of no less than 10 years or more than life in prison and no more than a $10 million fine on the conspiracy charge and no more than 20 years and a $500,000 fine on the money laundering charge.
Defendants Darrell Donald and Thaddeus Heard pleaded guilty on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, respectively, before U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock.
The plea agreement of Donald, 48, of Louin was not accessible through the court’s electronic documents system.
Heard, 33, of Okolona pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute more than 11 pounds of a cocaine mixture.
A week later, defendant Sheila Small pleaded guilty to one count that she traveled across state lines to deliver money from the unlawful activity.
Small, 44, of Okolona faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In exchange for their pleas, the government agrees not to charge them with anything else related to the drug ring.
Their plea agreements state that the potential penalties for convictions increase substantially if they have prior drug felony convictions.
They will not be sentenced until the U.S. Probation Service completes a report on each of them for Aycock to consider.
Others accused in the conspiracy are in various stages of prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Evans pleaded guilty in November 2011 to federal cocaine and gun charges and is serving a 108-month sentence in prison.