Cleburne County man faces possible life sentence in federal meth case

A Cleburne County man is facing a possible life sentence after pleading guilty in federal court this week to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Branden Lee Brewer, 46, of Quitman, was arrested following an Oct. 23, 2020 traffic stop on Interstate 30 near Malvern after state police discovered more than 7 pounds of methamphetamine, an undisclosed amount of cash and a loaded Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol in his 2018 Chevrolet pickup truck, court records stated.

A subsequent search of Brewer's home later that day turned up two more weapons and a manual on how to manufacture methamphetamine, according to Brewer's plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

On Oct. 4, 2022, Brewer was named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Little Rock charging him with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of equipment to manufacture methamphetamine, maintaining a drug premises, and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Also named in the indictment were Brewer's wife, Amber, 45, of Quitman; Jeffrey Lee McElyea, 41, of Greenbrier; and Elise Benson Love, whose age and hometown were unknown.

Amber Brewer was charged in the indictment with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and maintaining a drug premises. McElyea was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of equipment to manufacture methamphetamine, and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Love was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

On Wednesday, Brandon Brewer, who has been held in federal custody since Sept. 16, 2022, appeared before U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, accompanied by his attorney, Mark Alan Jesse of North Little Rock. Brewer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in exchange for the government's agreement to dismiss the remaining counts against him. He faces a statutory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison -- with a statutory maximum sentence of life -- when he returns for sentencing later this year following completion of a pre-sentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office in Little Rock.

Amber Brewer, McElyea and Love are scheduled for trial on July 1 in Miller's court beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Amber Brewer is represented by John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock, McElyea is represented by John C. Barttelt of Hardy, and Love is represented by Christian Chance Alexander of Jacksonville. Amber Brewer and Love are currently free on bail. McElyea is being held in federal custody.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bryant is prosecuting the case.

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