Her mother brought Amberlie Wright into what evolved into a multi-state methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy.
Tuesday, the 22-year-old Wright — who has a 3-year-old son and is newly pregnant with her second child — admitted to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of meth during a U.S. District Court hearing in Brunswick.
According to Special Agent Tom Crawford of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Wright’s mother, Sandra Rymer, worked for conspiracy ringleader Daniel Alo to smuggle contraband into the prison where Alo served time, while recruiting associates and trafficking in meth throughout Georgia and parts of Tennessee and Virginia.
Crawford said Wright moved a large amount of meth both with and without Rymer, and coordinated with Mexicans who were also part of the conspiracy. He noted Rymer would rent out residences on behalf of their Mexican associates.
Rymer, 36, pleaded guilty May 12 of last year in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia to conspiring to distribute 50 grams of a mixture containing meth. She was sentenced in September to five years in federal prison.
Wright — who was arrested in northern Georgia and allowed out on bond before the plea — tested positive for marijuana use Oct. 7 and missed a scheduled drug testing day Dec. 15. However, she maintained regular employment and tested clean a subsequent five times, so Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Gilluly asked that since she was cooperative with the investigation, employed and endeavoring to stay clean, in addition to her pregnancy, that she be allowed to remain out on bond.
Wright, becoming emotional, told the court she is and wants to remain clean and wants to be there for her son and for her child who’s due in August.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood agreed to the request, albeit with further instructions that Wright be subjected to enhanced testing and monitoring procedures. Wood also advised her that violating the terms of her bond agreement one more time could invalidate the plea agreement, in that it would show she wasn’t taking responsibility for her actions.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Wright is subject to no more than 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1 million, no less than three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment.
Oronde Pender, a 29-year-old father of four, also entered a guilty plea Tuesday for his actions in the Alo meth conspiracy.
Crawford said law enforcement set up a sting in which an identified meth dealer, Brian Schuyler, was to meet with their confidential informant Dec. 21, 2015. Crawford said Schuyler drove ahead in a Nissan Maxima while Pender rode behind him in a black Chevrolet Silverado, then after they stopped at a motel, Pender got out and sat in the back seat of the Maxima.
It was there, in the back seat, that authorities found him. Crawford said Pender’s arms were behind his back in a way that made it look he was hiding something. He said they found 107 grams of meth split between several bags in the car.
Pender pleaded to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of meth, for which he faces the same sentencing guidelines as Wright.
Meanwhile, Melvina Lewis pleaded guilty to her role in a separate Bloods street gang drug-trafficking conspiracy, of which her husband Calvin is the identified leader.
Detective Michael Scott Sapp, of the Brunswick Police Department and the FBI Violent Gang Task Force, said during the task force’s investigation of the Gangster Disciples, investigators learned the Disciples were in a turf war with the local Bloods set. Then, once the Disciples effectively disintegrated, the Bloods moved in on Wolfe Street and expanded their drug trafficking.
Lewis — who also went by Ma Dukes, Ma and Mel — admitted to assisting her husband with the criminal undertaking for at least two years, moving significant amounts of cocaine and crack.
During a plea status hearing in July, however, Lewis said she believed she was schizophrenic, hearing things that weren’t there and finding it hard to understand people talking who did exist. However, a federal Bureau of Prisons psychologist who examined Lewis stated she was malingering, meaning that she employed the “gross exaggeration or fabrication of psychological symptoms to avoid a legal consequence.”
As a result, she was judged competent to stand trial and in this case, competent to enter a guilty plea. Lewis, 44, pleaded to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, including 500 grams or more of cocaine and 280 grams or more of crack.
She faces a mandatory minimum of at least 10 years in federal prison, a maximum fine of $10 million, no less than five years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment.