CAPE GIRARDEAU - A Scott County man has pled guilty to federal crack cocaine charges.
Derrick Atterberry, 20, of Sikeston, entered a plea of guilty to one felony count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base on Tuesday when he appeared before U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey.
Atterberry now faces a maximum of 40 years imprisonment and a $2,000,000 fine, followed by a period of supervised release of at least four years. Sentencing is set for April 11 in Cape Girardeau.
With his plea, Atterberry admitted that on or about Sept. 23, 2004, he was arrested in Sikeston. Following his arrest, Atterberry attempted to discard a plastic bag containing nine small baggies of cocaine base. A more thorough search of Atterberry revealed an additional bag containing 20 small baggies of cocaine base. The substance in the 29 baggies was analyzed and found to contain 7.24 grams cocaine base (also referred to as "crack" cocaine). Atterberry admitted that he possessed the 7.24 grams of cocaine base, with the intent to distribute.
United State Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway commended the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force and the Sikeston Department of Public Safety for their combined efforts to prosecute this case.
Also on Tuesday a Florida man was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison on a felony drug charge.
Jose Antonio Toscano, 55, was sentenced to 80 months in prison on one felony count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Upon release from prison, Toscano will be placed on supervised release for a period of four years.
With his prior plea, Toscano admitted that on Sept. 3, 2004, he attempted to drive a semi-truck with Florida registration from Hidalgo, Texas, through the E-2 North Weigh Station in Pemiscot County. The truck was stopped for a routine inspection after one of the commercial vehicle officers noticed that the truck was displaying two different United States Department of Transportation numbers. Due to various logbook violations, Toscano was placed out of service for 10 hours.
A strong odor of fabric softener emanated from Toscano. As Toscano was leaving the weigh station building, a highway patrol trooper asked him for permission to search the truck. Toscano indicated the officer could search the truck and then opened the padlock on the trailer doors. The search of the trailer revealed that there was a load of bananas, however, in the center of the banana load were bundles of marijuana wrapped in plastic wrap. Toscano was placed under arrest.
The search of the tractor trailer revealed 84 bundles of marijuana wrapped in plastic, each approximately the same size as a single box of bananas. Some bundles were covered with grease, while others were covered with fabric softener sheets. The total weight of the marijuana seized was 1,130 kilograms with a street value of approximately $2.3 million dollars.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, including officers from the E-2 North Weigh Station in Steele and the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force were praised for their combined efforts to prosecute this case.