The driver of a rental car told officers he and his passengers were returning from a week-long vacation to Disney World.
The Texas men, pulled over on Interstate 10 in Jackson County, apparently had no souvenirs from Orlando, Florida.
But there were pain pills — thousands of them — in the car and the pills were in bottles as if they’d just come from a pharmacy.
The pills were stolen from a Walgreens, a judgment in court records shows. The location of the pharmacy wasn’t immediately available Thursday.
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The men’s return to Houston in July ended in federal custody in Gulfport and with guilty pleas to distributing hydrocodone.
The driver and his two passengers have each been sentenced in U.S. District Court to more than 10 years in prison.
They also have been ordered to make $21,392.68 in restitution. The money must be paid to Walgreens’ corporate recovery office, the judgment says.
Houston resident Joe Edward Johnson II, 27, received a prison term of 18 years and seven months.
Trenton Ferrell Williams, 34, also of Houston, and David Dewayne Gilliam, 26, of Channelview, Texas, have each received prison terms of 10 years and three months.
U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden, sentenced them on guilty pleas Feb. 15.
The South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team had pulled them over July 12, 2017, as they were westbound on I-10. Their vehicle was using an improper lane and following too closely, a court paper says.
Pills found in the blue Ford Fusion with a Texas license plate included oxycodone and oxymorphone. The pain-killers are known by the brand names of Oxycontin and Opana.
Williams had told officers his wife and children had been following the vehicle he was driving but they continued on to Texas when officers pulled him over, an affidavit says.
License-plate readers show the rental car was in Texas days before the traffic stop, and was eastbound on I-10 in Covington, La., the day before.
A federal grand jury indicted each of the men on five charges.
The case was investigated by a DEA Task Force and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shundral Cole.