BIRMINGHAM – A federal grand jury Wednesday indicted a Tuscaloosa man as part of a conspiracy to traffic cocaine in Tuscaloosa County, and with using an express delivery service to illegally distribute drugs, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Steven Gerido.
A four-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Thomas Blanks II, 39, with conspiracy to distribute cocaine from March through May of this year in Tuscaloosa County. The indictment further charges Blanks with distributing 500 grams or more of cocaine on May 17 in Tuscaloosa County, being a twice-convicted felon in possession of a .390-caliber pistol and 9mm ammunition on May 18, and with using FedEx, a corporation involved in interstate commerce, to promote illegal distribution of the drugs on May 17.
According to the indictment, Blanks was convicted in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court in March 2015 for unlawful possession of marijuana, first degree, and was convicted in federal court in the Northern District of Alabama in January 2009 for unlawful receipt of firearms.
The minimum penalty for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and for distributing 500 grams or more of cocaine is five years in prison. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and for distributing 500 grams or more of cocaine is 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. The maximum penalty for being a convicted felon in possession of firearms is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and the maximum penalty for using a facility in interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful activity is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Today’s indictment supersedes an August indictment that charged Blanks with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
ATF and the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force investigated the case, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama is prosecuting.
An indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.