A federal indictment, unsealed Thursday in federal court, has charged 14 defendants conspiring to traffic large amounts of methamphetamine from Mexico to Richmond, Columbia, and McDuffie Counties in Georgia, and to areas of South Carolina.
The charges result from a joint investigation by the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force, the DEA, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, State of Georgia Pardons and Parole Office, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
United States Attorney Edward Tarver said, "Successful investigations such as these are the result of great cooperation between federal and local law enforcement agencies. We are committed to bringing justice to those who profit from the scourge of illegal narcotics trafficking, and to seizing and forfeiting their ill-gotten gains."
Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, " This Mexico-based criminal enterprise is alleged to have established its methamphetamine distribution base of operations within the Central Savannah River area and, after an intensive investigation culminated in an extensive law enforcement action this week, those operations have come to a sudden end. The FBI's Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF) operating out of the Augusta area brought in additional resources from the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, the DEA, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), as well as officers from the Georgia State Pardons and Parole Office in order to better neutralize this organized and structured international drug distribution enterprise."
If convicted of the drug trafficking conspiracy charge, each defendant faces a maximum of life in prison and a potential fine of $10,000,000. Tarver noted that the United States is also seeking to forfeit various items of personal property involved in the offenses, including $2 million as the alleged proceeds of the defendants' drug trafficking.
Of the 14 defendants charged, 11 have been arrested:
The 3 remaining defendants still at large are:
Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of these 3 defendants are asked to call the FBI at (706) 722-3702.
Tarver emphasized that the indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Green Rhodes is prosecuting the case for the Government. For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.
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