ST. LOUIS – A judge sentenced a St. Louis drug ring leader Wednesday to 20 years in federal prison.

James L. Brownridge, 49, admitted to his role in running the drug ring earlier this year. The investigation began with a tip to the Drug Enforcement Administration about a low-level drug dealer in 2020.

According to court documents, Brownridge arranged to have drugs mailed between Las Vegas and several St. Louis area locations. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department found one package that contained about six pounds of methamphetamine. Another package, seized at a Hazelwood post office, contained nearly three kilograms of cocaine and two pounds of marijuana.

While investigating, authorities also caught Brownridge selling nearly two pounds of methamphetamine in March 2021. Investigators later searched homes linked to Brownridge and his co-conspirators in April 2021, recovering drugs, firearms and tens of thousands of dollars in cash.

In total, Brownridge admitted being responsible for around six kilos of methamphetamine, 3.3 kilos of cocaine and 102 grams of cocaine base. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and marijuana.

Eleven suspects have pleaded guilty in connection with the drug ring. Brownridge and four others have been sentenced.