TALLADEGA -- Nine Talladega County residents were served Wednesday morning with federal felony warrants on gun and drug charges. The cases leading up to the indictments were investigated by the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Talladega County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force. The U.S. Marshal’s Service, Talladega County Sheriff’s Office, Talladega Police and Sylacauga Police assisted.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama, two of the men were already incarcerated when they were served with indictments for being convicted felons in possession of firearms. These men were Chancy Berry Temple, 28, of Talladega and Christopher Murray, 30, of Childersburg.
The other seven people arrested Wednesday were Mareao Citron Sears, 24, of Sylacauga, for conspiracy to distribute narcotics; Jermaine Morris, 41, of Sylacauga, conspiracy to distribute narcotics and convicted felon in possession of a firearm; Terrell Alphonso McElrath, 29, of Sylacauga, felon in possession of a firearm; Justin Kirkland, 24, of Sylacauga, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking offense; Julian Arthur Harris, 25, of Talladega, felon in possession of a firearm; Travis Levert Chatman, 35, of Talladega, felon in possession of a firearm; and Meltrone Shuntang Sears, 31, of Sylacauga, distribution of narcotics.
According to Task Force Commander Jason Murray, Mareao Sears, Meltrone Sears and Morris were arrested following a single investigation. The case began as a gun investigation that led to alleged distribution of crack and powder cocaine.
The task force executed a search warrant Wednesday morning at 42 North Branch Road in Sylacauga that led to Morris’s arrest. As a result, Murray said, Morris will also be facing state charges for unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
All of the other cases stem from separate investigations, Murray added. McElrath and Harris are also likely to face state drug possession charges.
“Most of these cases involve an ATF agent who works out of our office,” Murray said. “He works on the gun side, and then we follow the dope side.”
All of the people served Wednesday morning had been indicted by a federal grand jury. Murray said they would have been processed by the U.S. Marshal’s service in Birmingham and may have had initial court appearances Wednesday afternoon, but bond amounts were not available.
A federal conviction for conspiracy to distribute narcotics or possession with intent to distribute carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison; the former carries fines of up to $5 million, and the latter, fines up to $1 million. A conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm carries up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking offense carries at least five years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, and another $250,000 fine.
Unlawful possession of a controlled substance is a class C felony under Alabama state law, and is punishable by one year and one day to 10 years in prison upon conviction.
Contact Chris Norwood at email@example.com.