EAST ST. LOUIS – U.S. Attorney Rachel Aud Crowe announced Thursday afternoon that a U.S. District judge sentenced a California man to 262 months imprisonment after he admitted to leading a drug conspiracy ring targeting communities in Southern Illinois. Thomas Hines, 33, of Los Angeles, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of money laundering conspiracy.

In addition to the prison sentence, Hines will serve five years of supervised release and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.

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Seven additional individuals were charged in the indictment and pleaded guilty for their involvement in the conspiracy. Three of those charged are from Granite City. Here is that list:

• Nyeshia Anderson, 32, of North Las Vegas, Nevada;

• Corey Hendriex, 39, of Granite City, Illinois;

• Amy Lynch, 42, of Granite City, Illinois;

• Tamara Peoples, 66, of Granite City, Illinois;

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• Richard Stark, 53, of Hazelwood, Missouri;

• Terrence Thompson, 36, of St. Louis, Missouri; and • Terrell Winston, 37, of Florissant, Missouri.

In one instance, Hines and Anderson delivered a suitcase holding nearly 11 kilograms of methamphetamine to Thompson in November 2020. Law enforcement recovered the suitcase while executing a search warrant on Thompson’s residence. To finance the illegal narcotic operation, conspirators utilized CashApp, cashier’s checks, bank transfers and postal money orders—thus resulting in money laundering.

“The defendant led an operation responsible for distributing a significant amount of methamphetamine in this district,” Aud Crowe said. “Pushing pound quantities of drugs exhibits a lack of respect for the law and safety of the community, and the defendant will have years to reconsider his actions in federal prison.”

"Taking out this methamphetamine trafficking organization is a prime example of DEA's key mission," said Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Rehg, head of Drug Enforcement Administration enforcement operations in southern Illinois. "We investigate the criminal networks causing the most damage to our communities, and meth is particularly prominent in the Midwest, damaging lives in every community. Significant time behind bars for defendants like Thomas Hines is a fine reward to our investigators for their diligent work."

According to court documents, the conspiracy operated from at least January 2020 until January 2021 and trafficked more than an estimated 20 pounds of methamphetamine to Southern Illinois. Hines was the source of supply of methamphetamine for the drug trafficking organization. Sentencing hearings for Lynch and Winston are scheduled for November 2023.

The remaining conspirators received federal prison sentences ranging from 32 to 292 months. DEA led the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karelia Rajagopal prosecuted the case. This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.

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