NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCN) — A man was sentenced to 26 years in prison for his role as the leader of an armed, interstate methamphetamine trafficking organization, according to U.S. Attorney Michael Easley.

According to court documents, Joseph Willie Jr., 31, of California, led the “Grape Street Drug Trafficking Organization”. The Grape Street DTO imported large amounts of highly pure and addictive crystal methamphetamine from Mexico.

The investigation revealed that Willie Jr. was responsible for distributing more than 100 kilograms of methamphetamine from 2016-20. Court documents also said that he earned more than $1 million in drug profits.

The DTO then distributed the methamphetamine throughout the United States, including Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Between July 2020 and Feb. 2021, ATF Undercover Agents posing as a member of Willie Jr.’s inner circle made six controlled purchases of more than three kilograms of crystal methamphetamine from Willie Jr.

Court documents said ATF sent the money to Willie Jr.’s wife, Tanna Nash, in California. When Nash received the money, Willie Jr. sent the drugs to Raleigh and Kinston in two-pound increments.

The USDOJ said at the time of Willie Jr.’s arrest, he was planning to expand into Fayetteville.

According to information obtained in the investigation, methamphetamine distributors in the different states, including members and associates of the Grape Street Crips, would contact Willie Jr. and place orders for the drugs to be shipped to them.  

The USDOJ said Willie Jr. was convicted of:

  • Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 500 grams or more of a substance containing methamphetamine;
  • Distribution of more than 500 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine;
  • Conspiracy to commit money laundering by concealment.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Michael Easley prosecuted the case.