GULFPORT — Charles Earl Johnson of Gulfport has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy that used a Diamondhead home as storage for drug proceeds.
U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden sentenced Johnson on a guilty plea on Monday. The judge also fined Johnson $2,000 and ordered five years’ probation upon his release from prison.
Johnson is the last of four defendants sentenced in the case, in which DEA agents followed them from the Dairy Queen in Diamondhead to a home in the 8300 block of Analii Drive on April 17, 2008.
DEA agents seized nearly $400,000 that day in drug money from one of the defendants’ vehicles.
The money was payment for 15 kilos of cocaine, according to court records.
Johnson received the stiffest penalties because of his prior criminal history.
At the time of his arrest, Johnson was a convicted felon and was found to be in possession of a handgun.
The government claimed that one of the defendants, Joel Lozano Lozano, was a known member of a drug trafficking organization based in Houston.
Records show Lozano told agents he had made about 10 trips to the Diamondhead home to pick up large sums of money from drug proceeds.
Lozano and two others were sentenced on guilty pleas in recent weeks.
Lozano is serving five years and 10 months in prison followed by five years’ probation. The judge also fined him $5,000.
Deron Ray Chapman is serving a term of 3 years and 10 months. Crystal Gail Gibson is serving three years and five months.
Both were fined $1,000 each and were given three years’ probation.
After the four were taken into custody, federal agents used a garage-door opener from a car driven by Johnson to get inside the Diamondhead home.
Agents claimed they found packing material in the home that matched material used to wrap the money they seized from one of the defendant’s cars.
Court documents show the DEA began its investigation in July 2006.