- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) - A Checotah man who pleaded guilty to running a methamphetamine distribution ring from prison has been sentenced to more than 23 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday that 37-year-old Michael Metzker was sentenced to 281 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.4 million. Metzker avoided a possible life sentence when he pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to possess and distribute 500 grams or more of meth.

Prosecutors say Metzker was an inmate in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections when he used smuggled cellphones to coordinate the purchase and distribution of meth in eastern Oklahoma. Prosecutors say Metzker continued the operation after he was released.

The state prison website shows Metzker was released in January 2014 after serving time for a variety of convictions, including drug possession,

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