Minneapolis, MN (KROC-AM News) - An Albert Lea man has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for his conviction on a conspiracy to distribute heroin charge. Gregory Brooker, the Acting US Attorney for Minnesota, says 36-year-old Antonio Snell, also known as “Fatty” or “Lord,” was the leader of a Rochester based heroin trafficking operation that was linked to two overdose deaths in Austin.

His half-brother, 23-year-old Melvin Hunter of Chicago, was also given a 14 year sentence in the case. A second Illinois man, 27-year-old Randall Snell, was earlier sentenced to just over 7 ½ years in prison. Two Rochester men were also convicted of conspiracy to distribute heroin for their involvement in the operation. 44-year-old Darrell Smith was given a seven year prison term and 38-year-old Ernest Thomas was sentenced to 77 months in prison.

“These defendants brought large amounts of heroin from Chicago to southern Minnesota and sold it for $200 a gram,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen. “Even after two of their customers died from heroin overdoses, the defendants continued dealing these dangerous drugs. The imposed sentences appropriately reflect the defendants’ callous disregard for human life.”

Federal officials say the evidence gathered by investigators and statements given by the men in court show of the heroin distribution ring operated in the Rochester area from January 2013 through June of last year. Heroin sold by Melvin Hunter was directly connected to the overdose deaths of 23-year-old Tyler Burkey in December 2015 and 20-year-old Jordan Jensen in March of last year.

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