In a recent trial, Phoutasone Champanine, a 37-year-old man from Urbana, Illinois, was found guilty of participating in a conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine. The federal jury returned a verdict, convicting Champanine of multiple charges, including maintaining a drug-involved premises and possessing a firearm as a felon. The government presented evidence that Champanine, a repeat offender with prior drug convictions, was involved in large-scale methamphetamine trafficking in the Champaign-Urbana area. Champanine’s home and storage unit were searched, leading to the discovery of firearms, ammunition, and a significant quantity of methamphetamine. Sentencing for Champanine is scheduled for October 2023, where he faces substantial penalties and potential imprisonment. This case was part of the ongoing effort by law enforcement agencies to combat drug trafficking and reduce violent crime in the community.
Guilty Verdict and Charges
On June 8, 2023, Phoutasone Champanine, an Urbana, Illinois, man, was found guilty by a federal jury of conspiracy to possess fifty grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and possessing a firearm as a felon. This verdict came after two days of testimony in which the government presented evidence establishing Champanine’s involvement in dealing pounds of methamphetamine in the Champaign-Urbana area.
Champanine was charged with conspiracy to possess fifty grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and possessing a firearm as a felon. These charges were a result of his illicit activities involving methamphetamine and the unlawful possession of firearms.
Prior Drug Convictions
Champanine, a 37-year-old Urbana resident, has multiple prior drug convictions on his record. These prior convictions are indicative of his involvement in illegal drug activities and establish a pattern of criminal behavior.
Dealing in Methamphetamine
Investigations revealed that Champanine was actively involved in dealing pounds of methamphetamine in the Champaign-Urbana area. His illegal activities contributed to the spread of this dangerous and addictive substance within the community.
Firearms and Ammunition Found
During the investigation, law enforcement agents discovered several firearms and various calibers of ammunition in Champanine’s storage unit in Savoy, Illinois. Subsequently, a search warrant was obtained for his home, where additional firearms, ammunition, and drugs were found. The presence of firearms and ammunition further adds to the severity of Champanine’s charges.
Scheduled Sentencing Date
Champanine’s sentencing has been scheduled for October 13, 2023, at the U.S. Courthouse in Urbana. This court date will determine the penalties he will face for his involvement in the methamphetamine conspiracy and related charges.
Upon sentencing, Champanine may face severe statutory penalties for his crimes. For the conspiracy conviction, he faces ten years to life imprisonment, up to a $10,000,000 fine, and a maximum life term of supervised release. The charge of maintaining a drug-involved premises carries penalties of up to twenty years of imprisonment, up to a $500,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release. Finally, for possessing a firearm as a felon, Champanine faces up to ten years of imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release.
Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force
The case investigation was conducted by the Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force, a specialized unit composed of officers from the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, the Champaign Police Department, the Urbana Police Department, and the University of Illinois Police Department. This multi-jurisdictional task force collaborated to gather evidence and build a strong case against Champanine.
In addition to the Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force, several other law enforcement agencies provided invaluable assistance in the investigation. These agencies include the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Springfield Field Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The collaboration between these agencies demonstrates the commitment to combating drug trafficking and illegal firearm possession in the area.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy Sullivan and William J. Lynch
During the trial, the government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy Sullivan and William J. Lynch. These experienced attorneys presented the evidence and argued the case against Champanine, aiming to secure a guilty verdict and hold him accountable for his crimes.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
The case against Champanine is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that brings together law enforcement agencies at all levels and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence. PSN seeks to create safer neighborhoods by fostering trust and legitimacy within communities, supporting violence prevention efforts, setting strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results of these initiatives.
Violent Crime Reduction Strategy
In May 2021, the Department of Justice launched an updated violent crime reduction strategy under Project Safe Neighborhoods. This strategy aims to strengthen the program by focusing on core principles, such as fostering trust and legitimacy in communities, supporting community-based organizations that prevent violence, setting strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the impact of these efforts. The case against Champanine aligns with this strategy by addressing drug trafficking and the illegal possession of firearms, which contribute to violent crime in the community.
Four Sentenced for Multi-Kilogram Crack Cocaine Conspiracy
In a separate case, four individuals involved in a multi-kilogram crack cocaine conspiracy were sentenced on August 8, 2023. The successful prosecution of these individuals demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to combatting drug-related crimes and holding offenders accountable.
Atlanta, Illinois Man Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
Juan Esquivel Bernal, an Atlanta, Illinois resident, was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment on August 7, 2023, for his involvement in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. This case highlights the ongoing efforts to dismantle drug distribution networks and disrupt the illegal drug trade.
Peoria Man Sentenced to 50 Months in Prison for Possessing a Handgun Outfitted with a ‘Glock Switch’ Machinegun Conversion Device
Anthony Q. Johnson, a Peoria, Illinois resident, received a 50-month prison sentence on August 2, 2023, for possessing a handgun outfitted with a ‘Glock Switch’ machinegun conversion device. This case illustrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to removing illegal firearms from the streets and ensuring public safety.
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In conclusion, the guilty verdict and charges against Phoutasone Champanine highlight the successful efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat drug trafficking and firearms-related crimes in the Champaign-Urbana area. The case investigation, trial representation, and the involvement of various law enforcement agencies demonstrate the dedication to ensuring public safety. This case is part of the broader Project Safe Neighborhoods program, which aims to reduce violent crime and gun violence through collaboration and strategic enforcement. By staying connected through various channels and accessing available resources, the public can support these efforts and contribute to safer communities.