Five members of a drug dealing operation whose heroin caused two deaths in southern Minnesota have been sentenced to a combined 49 years in prison.
The Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office announced on Friday that the two leaders of the drug dealing conspiracy, Antonio Jermaine Snell, aka "Fatty" or "Lord," and his half-brother Melvin Hunter, were each handed 14-year sentences.
Three more men involved in the conspiracy also received lengthy sentences totaling 21 years between them.
Snell and Hunter, of Albert Lea and Chicago respectively, brought heroin from Chicago to Rochester, where they sold it for $200 a gram, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen said in a news release.
Two of their customers overdosed on this heroin, but despite this they continued to deal "these dangerous drugs," Paulsen said, adding that their sentences "appropriately reflect the defendants’ callous disregard for human life."
Hunter supplied the heroin that killed 23-year-old Tyler Burkey on Dec. 18, 2015, and 20-year-old Jordan Jensen, 20, on Mar. 27, 2016. Both the men were from Austin, Minnesota.
According to their guilty pleas, Snell was the leader of the Rochester-based organization, distributing heroin with the help of Hunter and other defendants Darrell Smith, Ernest Thomas and Randle Snell.
They would recruit others to be "runners" distributing their product, using their homes to process and store drugs.
Judge Michael Davis said during the sentencing: "You were selling poison . . . and it caused death."
Antonio Snell and Marvin Hunter each received 146 month prison sentences.
Randle Snell was sentenced to 92 months, Thomas 77 months, and Smith 84 months.