PANAMA CITY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Ruben Ivan Fuller, 44, of Port Saint Joe, Florida, has been sentenced to thirty years in federal prison after previously pleading guilty to drug and firearm charges. Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the sentence.

Fuller’s criminal history includes eight prior felony convictions, six of which involved narcotics distribution. Given the nature of his prior convictions, Fuller qualified as an Armed Career Criminal and a Career Offender and was subject to increased Federal sentencing penalties.

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“Those who repeatedly commit serious crimes are deserving of significant prison sentences,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Coody. “Due to the collective efforts of the Tyndall Air Force Base Security Forces, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, this armed drug trafficker has been called to account for his continued criminal conduct, and the community is safer as a result.”

Court documents reflect that between November 2018, and February 2019, Fuller received kilogram quantities of methamphetamine from various sources, which he resold to lower-level drug dealers. On July 26, 2019, Tyndall Air Force Base Security Forces conducted a traffic stop during which Fuller was found in possession of marijuana, 48.72 grams of methamphetamine, a .380 pistol and ammunition, and $8640 cash. On August 16, 2019, investigators with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office observed Fuller walk inside of a residence for which a search warrant was to be executed. Fuller was carrying a brown paper bag at the time. A few minutes later, Fuller left the residence, still carrying the paper bag. Fuller was followed as he drove away from the residence and his vehicle stopped by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. The brown paper bag was found to contain 482.6 grams of methamphetamine. A second bag containing an additional 27.4 grams of methamphetamine was also found in Fuller’s vehicle.

“This sentence demonstrates that drug traffickers looking to bring drugs and violence into our communities will be held accountable for their actions,” said DEA Miami Field Division Acting Special Agent in Charge La Verne Hibbert. “This sentence also emphasizes the DEA Miami Field Division’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners in keeping our communities safe from drug related violence.”

As a result of his criminal conduct, Fuller pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

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“ATF continues to work vigorously with our law enforcement partners to ensure the safety and protection of the communities that we serve,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge, Craig W. Saier, “and to make sure the armed career criminals in possession of firearms are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“The Bay County Sheriff’s Office remains committed to valuable partnerships between law enforcement entities that strengthen our capabilities to protect and serve,” said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford. “Anyone attempting to bring drugs and violence onto our streets will face an effective, unified team safeguarding our communities.”

This case resulted from a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Tyndall Air Force Base Security Forces, and the Parker Police Department, with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney James A. McCain prosecuted the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders works together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

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As part of its PSN strategy, the United States Attorney’s Office is encouraging everyone to lock their car doors, particularly at night. Burglaries from unlocked automobiles are a significant source of guns for criminals in the Northern District of Florida. Please do your part and protect yourself by locking your car doors.