- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - A third man has pleaded guilty to charges related to the transporting meth in tennis balls from Fresno, California, to Jackson County.

Michael Wayne “Swisha” Hanzik Jr., 27, of Pascagoula, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Gulfport to possession with intent to distribute meth. He will be sentenced Nov. 19. He faces a maximum 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1KPWuMO ) that federal drug investigators have identified Hanzik and his two others as major suppliers of kilos of meth shipped to Jackson County. Payments wired to bank accounts in Fresno.

Marques DeAnthony Payton, 36, of Fresno, pleaded guilty Aug. 19 to a conspiracy charge. His sentencing will be Nov. 24.

Scott Joseph Houska, 48, of Gautier, pleaded guilty June 22 to possession with intent to distribute. Sentencing is Sept. 29.

Each faces penalties of five to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.

The Drug Enforcement Administration began its investigation after the George County Sheriff’s Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics received information Hanzik was distributing meth in Jackson County, a DEA agent’s sworn statement said.

Authorities found Hanzik in a traffic stop March 24 with a bag of meth in his mouth and meth hidden in tennis balls. A search of his home turned up $3,923 in suspected drug money and meth shipped to him March 20, the document said.

Investigation showed the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office had seized a 1-pound package of meth March 17 that was bound for Hanzik’s home.

A DEA agent has testified the others were arrested in April after agents learned Payton was heading to Jackson County from Atlanta. Houska had meth in his car and his apartment at the time of his arrest, the agent said.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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