Chelsea man convicted as leader of drug ring

BIRMINGHAM – A Chelsea man was sentenced to 21 years in a Birmingham-based conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, heroin and cocaine on Tuesday, April 24.

An announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama identified Anthony Levy “Amp” Ward, 37, as the leader of a drug ring that operated in 2015 and 2016.

Ward was sentenced to 20 years and 10 months in prison on multiple counts of conspiracy to distribute or possession with intent to distribute at least 1,000 grams of heroin and at least five kilograms of cocaine, as well as two counts of attempted possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, by U.S. District Judge Scott L. Coogler.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the 7.1 kilograms of fentanyl trafficked by Ward was the equivalent of more than 350,000 doses. U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town referred to fentanyl as a “poison,” and said a “tiny fraction” of a gram of fentanyl can be lethal.

“Ward was found with 17,000 pills cut with this illicit narcotic,” Town said. “It was his intent to make this poison to an alarming number of fatal and non-fatal overdoses. Judge Coogler’s sentence today justly sends the message that the death and destruction of this criminal behavior will not be tolerated, will not be excused and will be severely punished.”

During the investigation, 8.8 kilograms of cocaine that was intended to be delivered to Ward from Arizona and 4.662 kilograms of pure fentanyl delivered from Mexico were seized. Agents also discovered 254.9 grams of pure fentanyl from China that Ward had mailed to an address in the Birmingham area.

Ward was also sentenced on several counts of using a telephone to commit a drug trafficking crime, one count of carrying a firearm for the furtherance of drug trafficking and one count of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Ward pleaded guilty to all charges in 2017.

“For years, Anthony Ward has distributed poison in the form of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl to individuals in the Birmingham,” said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bret Hamilton. “There is no telling how many families have been destroyed by Ward’s actions. But with this sentence, the residents of Birmingham have one less drug dealer to worry about for years to come. I hope that those who looked up to ‘Amp’ will see the futility in the life Ward has lived thus far. Otherwise, the DEA will not hesitate in giving them the opportunity to live in federal prison, too.”

Ward is the eighth of nine defendants to be sentenced for his involvement in the case. Ward’s father, 58-year-old Anthony Levy Alexander, and aunt, 51-year-old Betty Levy Alexander, were also convicted.

Other defendants who were convicted include 20-year-old Ferlando Carmise Mims, 20-year-old Onandas Carmece Beard and 38-year-old Corey Darnelle Haynes, all of Birmingham, and 24-year-old Jesus Ubaldo Montoya,26-year-old Marahai Ardizo Enriquez and 32-year-old Jose Agustin Gutierrez, all of Phoenix.

All of the other defendants were sentenced to serve between two to 15 years in prison, with the exception of Gutierrez, whose sentencing is scheduled for May 22.

Ward, along with the other defendants, were ordered to pay $1.7 million judgement as proceeds of illegal activity.

The DEA investigated the case with the assistance of the Birmingham and Hoover Police Departments and the U.S. Marshal’s Service. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama.