Former fleet owner sentenced for involvement in meth, money laundering organization

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Oct. 4, 2021:

Trucking company involved in meth, money laundering organization

The final defendant in a multi-person indictment was sentenced to federal prison on Thursday, effectively bringing to a close the criminal activities of an eastern Arkansas drug trafficking and money laundering organization, which involved a trucking company.

Last week, U.S. District Judge James M. Moody sentenced Termaine Ontario Slaughter, 36, of Parkin, Arkansas, to 90 months in prison and five years of supervised release. On Nov. 18, 2020, Slaughter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Slaughter is the fourth and final defendant to be sentenced in an indictment that was filed on June 6, 2018. Three of the defendants received federal prison sentences.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas, beginning in 2014 and continuing through 2018, Slaughter; Demario Smith, 40, of Southaven, Mississippi; Elliott Davis, 41, of Colt, Arkansas; Montana Smith, 45, of Parkin, Arkansas; and others were involved in the distribution of methamphetamine in the Forrest City, Arkansas, area.

Slaughter and Demario Smith used drug proceeds to fund a trucking business called Prudent Transport and a rental property business called Upscale Properties.

An extensive analysis of records from the trucking business and rental properties showed that from 2013-'17, Slaughter’s personal and business accounts had $733,811 in deposits coming from unidentified sources. Analysis showed that there were $877,359.60 in cash expenditures on vehicles and other items that did not come from the accounts, including the purchase of tractor-trailers for the trucking business.

Bank records revealed that cash deposits in amounts under $10,000 were systematically made at bank branches in Memphis, Mississippi, and Arkansas, with corresponding amounts of cash being withdrawn from other bank locations on the same date or close in time.

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During last week’s sentencing hearing, in addition to receiving his prison sentence, Slaughter agreed to forfeit numerous firearms and five vehicles, including four over-the-road trucks used by Prudent Transport, and a Dodge Challenger.

On Nov. 19, 2020, Demario Smith pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and on May 26, 2021, was sentenced to 33 months in prison. On Nov. 19, 2020, Davis pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and on June 8, 2021, he was sentenced to 51 months’ imprisonment. On November 19, 2020, Montana Smith pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony (or having knowledge of and failing to inform authorities of a crime), and on June 9, 2021, he was sentenced to five years’ probation.

[Related: Truckers banned from section of I-95; safety issue cited]

Two recalls affect small number of Peterbilt trucks

Paccar recently issued two recalls that affect a total of 34 Peterbilt trucks, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

One recall affects approximately 19 model year 2022 Peterbilt 567 and 579 models, in which the electronic stability control (ESC) malfunction indicator lamp may not illuminate, which is a violation of federal vehicle safety standards.

Dealers will reprogram the ESC system for free to fix the issue. Owners can contact Paccar customer service at 940-591-4220 with recall number 21PBL. NHTSA’s recall number is 21V-719.

The other recall affects approximately 15 model year 2020-2021 Peterbilt 520 trucks, in which the quick release valve on the rear brake signal hose may be missing, which is also a violation of federal vehicle safety standards. A missing quick release valve cannot ensure correct rear brake release timing, increasing the risk of a crash or injury.

Dealers will inspect the affected trucks for a missing quick release valve and install one if necessary. Owners can contact Paccar customer service at 1-940-591-4220 with recall number 21PBK. NHTSA’s recall number is 21V-720.

[Related: Daimler recalls 450 Cascadias over exhaust issue]

Love’s opens new location in Florida

Love’s Travel Stops has added to its network with the opening of a new location in Mims, Florida, located at 4440 Highway 46 in Brevard County, east of Orlando.

The new store offers 93 truck parking spaces, a Hardee’s restaurant, eight diesel bays, seven showers, a Speedco opening at a later date, and more.

The location is the company’s 19th in Florida.

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