Several area residents will spend time in federal prison for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. They were sentenced this week in federal court in Kansas City after pleading guilty in connection with a drug trafficking conspiracy that ran from November 2013 to September 2014.

William Whitehurst, 54, of Independence, was sentenced Thursday to 15 years without parole. Also sentenced Thursday were co-defendants John Grandon, 47, of Independence, his sister Regina Williamson, 54, of Kansas City, and 48-year-old James Earl of Blue Springs. Grandon received 10 years, Williamson two years and six months and Earl four years and six months, all without parole.

Another co-defendant, 45-year-old Melanie Hamilton of Independence, has pleaded guilty to being the supply source for drug trafficking and is scheduled to be sentenced April 12. Five additional co-defendants have previously pleaded guilty and been sentenced.

Grandon also pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm to further a drug-trafficking crime. According to court documents, Whitehurst and Earl each admitted that they purchased meth from Hamilton, then redistributed that meth to Grandon, Williamson and others.

Grandon admitted he himself was responsible for purchase and redistribution of at least 1.5 kilograms of meth. According to court documents, a confidential informant told investigators he had seen Grandon at his residence with a half-pound of meth and a gun. Officers searched at Grandon's residence on July 1, 2014, and found about 160 grams of meth, a .380-caliber revolver, nearly $3,000 and drug paraphernalia. Grandon told investigators he had purchased about a half-pound of meth from Whitehurst each week over the previous three months (about 2.7 kilograms total).

Williamson admitted selling about 3-4 ounces of meth per week for two months at $1,000 per ounce (about 782 grams total). She sold meth to her brother Grandon's customers while he was in jail.

Hamilton admitted that she obtained large quantities of meth and broke them down for redistribution. A confidential informant made three separate controlled purchases from Hamilton, and each time she weighed out a quantity of meth from a large ziplock freezer bag that contained several pounds of the substance.

Officers searched Hamilton's residence on Sept. 24, 2014, and seized more than a kilogram of meth, drug paraphernalia and a DVR containing surveillance of individuals coming and going at her residence. She told investigators that she had received 1 to 2 pounds of meth every other week for the previous three months. Investigators found Hamilton was involved in distributing at least five kilograms of methamphetamine, according to court documents.

This case was investigated by the Jackson County Drug Task Force and the Independence, Mo., Police Department.