Ameal Parker, aka Ameal Varnado, was Sentenced to 30 Years for the Murder of a Federal Agent

NEW ORLEANS—Ameal Parker, aka Ameal Varnado, age 47, of New Orleans, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt to 30 years in prison for the murder of DEA Supervisory Special Agent Thomas J. Byrne while Agent Byrne was engaged in and on account of the performance of his official duties, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and DEA Special Agent in Charge Jimmy S. Fox, III.

In addition to the term of imprisonment, Judge Engelhardt sentenced Parker to five years of supervised release following the term of imprisonment during which time the defendant will be under federal supervision and risks an additional term of imprisonment should he violate any terms of his supervised release.

According to court documents, Parker pleaded guilty on July 23, 2009, following an investigation which revealed that on Aug. 28, 2008, Supervisory Special Agent Byrne was visiting New Orleans in his official capacity while attending the U.S. Department of Justice-sponsored Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Southeast Regional Conference, which began on Aug. 26, 2008, at local downtown hotel. Supervisory Special Agent Byrne died on Aug. 30, 2008 at Tulane University Hospital from injuries he received from Parker during an assault and robbery in the early morning hours of Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008.

This prosecution was the result of a cooperative investigation conducted by the DEA, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and New Orleans Police Department, with the valuable assistance of the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office. Crimestoppers was also instrumental in efforts to gather pertinent evidence surrounding the crime.

Supervisory Special Agent Byrne was a 16-year veteran of the DEA, most recently assigned to the Houston Division. He was married and the father of four children.

The prosecution has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maurice Landrieu and Jay Quinlan.