Crime

Two Florida men sentenced in Harrison County cocaine bust

GULFPORT -- A Florida man who coordinated trips to move large amounts of cocaine from Florida to Texas by way of South Mississippi will serve a total of 14 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden on Tuesday sentenced Herman McGee Jr., 27, of Jacksonville, on two federal charges.

On a drug conspiracy charge, Ozerden sentenced him to the 14-year prison term followed by five years of supervised release and an $8,000 fine. That sentence will run concurrently to another 14-year sentence and $8,000 fine on a charge of conspiracy to possess a firearm in a drug-trafficking scheme.

Another man, Michael Lamar Ricks, 27, of Jacksonville, Fla., will serve a little more than nine years in prison followed by five years of supervised release on a drug conspiracy charge. He was also ordered to pay an $8,000 fine during his sentencing Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Four people were arrested in the case. The others, Jaylyn Holland and Keriyae Simmons, also of Jacksonville, admitted serving as couriers who received $500 each time they moved the multi-kilo shipments of cocaine from one state to another for McGee. They are serving four-year sentences.

A federal grand jury indicted all four on drug conspiracy charges, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and interstate travel in aid of racketeering. In addition, McGee was indicted on the firearms charge.

In exchange for their pleas, the remaining charges were dismissed.

Harrison County deputies arrested McGee, Simmons and Holland in a Jan. 9 traffic stop in Harrison County that resulted in the seizure of more than 4 kilos of cocaine.

Authorities arrested Ricks later in Florida. In a court filing submitted at his sentencing, Ricks denied having any knowledge of a drug conspiracy and said he thought he was working with McGee to help promote dancers for clubs. Ricks, however, admitted guilt when he entered his plea in the case.

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