Former coach sentenced for meth-in-tennis-balls conspiracy

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a 36-year-old man to serve more than 23 years in prison for his involvement in large-scale drug conspiracy.

The Sun Herald reports Marques Payton was sentence Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden.

Payton pleaded guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge.

He is a former coach in the Dixie Youth league in Gautier.

Prior to imposing the sentence, Ozerden pointed out Payton played a “leadership role” in the drug case that also resulted in indictments against Michael Hanzik Jr. of Pascagoula and two other men.

Hanzik was arrested on March 24 in a traffic stop in Jackson County that resulted in the seizure of a bag of meth from his mouth and more meth hidden in tennis balls in his car.