Owsley County Man Pleads Guilty to Methamphetamine Trafficking and Possession of Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking

U.S. Department of Justice seal 290

LONDON, Ky. - James Everett Smith, 51, of Booneville, Kentucky, admitted in federal court Monday, before U.S. District Judge Robert Wier, that he possessed with intent to distribute 500 grams of more of methamphetamine and possessed a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

Smith admitted that on September 23, 2018, law enforcement officers responded to a report of shots fired near his residence. Officers approached Smith as he attempted to get in his van and found him in possession of 19 grams of methamphetamine and two pistols. Smith gave officers permission to search his residence, where they found approximately 685 grams of methamphetamine, two additional pistols, two shotguns, $1,170, and digital scales. In his plea agreement, Smith acknowledged possessing the methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it, and to possessing the firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.

According to the plea agreement, Smith was prohibited from possessing firearms because of multiple prior felony convictions, including two 2006 Manufacturing Methamphetamine convictions from Owsley County.

Smith was indicted in June 2019.

Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Tommy Estevan, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Louisville Division of ATF; and Commissioner Rodney Brewer, Kentucky State Police; jointly announced the guilty plea.

The investigation was conducted by KSP and ATF. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Parman.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on May 19, 2020. He faces a mandatory minimum 20 years in prison, up to life in prison, and a maximum fine of $20 million. However, any sentence will be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal sentencing statutes.

This is a case prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” Program (PSN), which is a nationwide, crime reduction strategy aimed at decreasing violent crime in communities. It involves a comprehensive approach to public safety — one that includes investigating and prosecuting crimes, along with prevention and reentry efforts. In the Eastern District of Kentucky, U.S. Attorney Robert Duncan Jr., coordinates PSN efforts in cooperation with various federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at

— END —


Submit Press Releases