Federal court returned a guilty verdict on a Houston, Texas man on Wednesday busted for a half ton of marijuana in South Jacksonville over four years ago.
25 year old Muhammad Usama was found guilty by a jury for knowingly possessing 100 kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance, with intent to distribute it. Sentencing for Usama has been scheduled for September 9, 2022, at the federal Courthouse in Springfield.
Usama and 43 year old Syed Fraz Ahmad were stopped at Love’s Travel Stop by a Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputy on New Year’s Eve 2017 after the deputy noticed an R.V. With Idaho plates. According to an article in the Journal Courier at the time, the deputy struck up a conversation with the two men but portions of their story didn’t add up prompting a drug dog to be called to search the vehicle.
Both men consented to the search and police found 1,000 pounds of pre-packaged marijuana valued around $5 million. The RV housed about 30 duffel bags that contained around 34 pounds of cannabis that was individually packaged in various amounts and vacuum-sealed. After the men were arrested, they told authorities the cannabis came from California and was going to be delivered to three places on the East Coast. Sheriff Mike Carmody said at the time it was one of the largest pot busts the county had ever seen.
The two men also were traveling at the time with an 8-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, both of whom were turned over to the Department of Children and Family Services.
Over three days of testimony in federal court in Springfield, federal prosecutors established that Usama was attempting to travel across the country to sell the cache of drugs.
Usama remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals. At sentencing, Usama faces statutory penalties of up to 40 years imprisonment, up to a life term of supervised release, and up to a $5,000,000 fine.
The case investigation was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Administration, Illinois State Police, Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, South Jacksonville Police Department, and the Jacksonville Police Department. The Morgan County State’s Attorney’s Office also assisted in the case.