Local drug traffickers sentenced in federal court

Two Ruston men have been sentenced by United States District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote for trafficking methamphetamine.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Shreveport announced last week that James Pittman, 41, was sentenced to 153 months (12 years, 9 months) in prison. A sentence of 150 months (12 years, 5 months) was imposed on Jeffery Southern, 51. 

Both will be under supervised release for five years following their release from prison.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office, Ruston Police Department, and Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office.

During an investigation of drug trafficking in the Ruston area, authorities learned Pittman and Southern were traveling together to Houston, Texas to obtain methamphetamine on February 18, 2022. Agents conducted surveillance of their vehicle and observed the men as they returned from Houston and traveled through Shreveport and Bossier City. A deputy with the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office observed the vehicle commit a traffic violation and stopped it. Pittman was identified as the driver and Southern as the passenger. 

Pittman admitted to the deputy he was wanted on a Webster Parish warrant. The deputy confirmed the warrant was valid and returned to the vehicle and asked Pittman to step out. While Pittman was searched, Southern slid over into the driver’s seat and fled the scene. A back-up deputy gave chase and shot out the back tire of the vehicle as it fled. Southern was eventually stopped and taken into custody.

In a search of the vehicle, law enforcement officers found a duffle bag in the trunk containing methamphetamine, marijuana, and other drug paraphernalia. In addition, officers found a black zippered bag Southern had thrown from the vehicle when he fled. The bag was sent to the DEA for testing and was confirmed to contain 1,460.7 grams of pure methamphetamine. Southern and Pittman were charged in an indictment, and both pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tennille M. Gilreath.