Alice Marie Johnson, a mother-of-five, grandmother-of-six and great-grandmother of one, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of drug dealing in 1996.
It was her first conviction and her 15 conspirators all testified against in exchange for having their charges dropped.
The 63-year-old grew up in Olive Branch, Mississippi, and was married and pregnant by age 15.
In 1989, she and her husband divorced. Her life started to crumble as she struggled, as a single mother, to try and be financially stable for her five children, reports Mic. However, in 1990, because of a gambling addition, she was sacked by FedEx Corporation.
After filing for bankruptcy in 1991, Johnson lost her house. The next year, a scooter accident claimed the life of her youngest son, Cory.
It was while she was at rock bottom that Johnson became involved in a drug syndicate that imported cocaine into Memphis, Tennessee, where she acted as a go-between and passed on messages to drug dealers, relaying coded messages like 'everything is straight' by telephone.
While admitting to acting as a middle man for the drug traffickers, passing on the messages in code via telephone, Johnson claims she never sold drugs.
She was arrested along with 15 others in 1993 on charges including conspiracy to possess cocaine, attempted possession of cocaine and money laundering.
But ten of her alleged co-conspirators turned against her in exchange for reduced sentencing or dropped charges.
During the trial, evidence showed an operation with Texas-based Colombian drug dealers and their Memphis connections trading tons of cocaine for millions of dollars in cash, according to a report in The Tennessean (Nashville) in 1997.
At the time of Johnson's February 1997 sentencing, federal laws mandated a life sentence, despite the fact Johnson was a first-time, nonviolent offender.
US District Judge Julia Gibbons, who sentenced Johnson, called the then 42-year-old the 'quintessential entrepreneur' of the drug ring.
'And clearly the impact of 2,000 to 3,000 kilograms of cocaine in