A Hattiesburg man is facing drug charges that could potentially land him in jail for life. William Russell Oswalt, 29, of Hattiesburg, entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances (heroin) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Special Agent in Charge Dana Nichols with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Oswalt faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the conspiracy charge and five years to life in prison for the firearm charge. He further faces fines of $250,000 and $1 million, along with at least three years of supervised release. Sentencing is set for October 16, 2018, at 9:45 a.m.
On January 4, 2016, the Twelfth Circuit Court Narcotics Enforcement Team made an undercover purchase of heroin. Thirteen days later, on January 17, 2017, armed with an arrest warrant, law enforcement officers located Oswalt at a Hattiesburg hotel and found him to be in possession of marijuana, methamphetamine, digital scales, numerous pills and a loaded firearm. With this information, Agents with the DEA and ATF conducted an investigation of Oswalt that revealed he had been distributing heroin in the Hattiesburg area since 2013. Agents identified his sources in New Orleans, one of whom verified Oswalt purchased quantities of heroin. Other associates admitted they purchased heroin from Oswalt. He was indicted on the federal charges in April 2018.
The Twelfth Circuit Court Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Annette Williams.