By Jo Ellen Nott
On April 5, 2022, federal prosecutors announced convictions in a massive drug-trafficking conspiracy for 125 associates of an Oklahoma-based prison gang, one of whom was a state prison guard and another the incarcerated brother of recently executed Oklahoma prisoner Gilbert Postelle.
David Postelle, 39, who headed the “Irish Mob Gang,” received an additional life sentence in federal prison for distributing or assisting in the distribution of over 270 kilograms of methamphetamine. He was already serving life without the possibility of parole for his role in the same quadruple murder for which his brother was put to death on February 17, 2022.
Oklahoma State Penitentiary (OSP) guard Andrew Pranger, 24, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison with two years of probation for his role in the scheme, which earned him thousands of dollars in bribes for smuggling contraband cellphones that the gang used and warning its imprisoned members about cell searches.
Postelle was found guilty of running the drug trafficking operation from his maximum-security state prison cell, connecting with fellow gang members using those contraband cellphones, which investigators discovered with a dozen wiretaps. They said the wiretaps also prevented dozens of acts of violence; from the beginning of the five-year investigation, death threats had been made against two prosecutors in the case.
According to U.S. Attorney Robert Troester, 113 of those convicted were sentenced to a combined 1,350 years in prison, with seven lower-level defendants receiving 33 years of probation and two others receiving 15 years of deferred sentences in state court. Two more still await sentencing.
On April 26, 2022, federal prosecutors announced additional indictments on drug-trafficking charges had been handed down against a half-dozen people, including two members of the United Aryan Brotherhood gang. One of them, Richard Deeter, 44, is also accused of using contraband cellphones to carry out his role in the scheme from his cell at OSP.
The state Department of Corrections reported seizing over 500 contraband cellphones a month on average from its 16,000 prisoners between August 2017 and December 2021.
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