23 arrested Wednesday in huge drug case

Published 12:22 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

A four-year federal drug investigation came to fruition Wednesday with the arrest of 23 persons involved in an alleged conspiracy to distribute cocaine, including some from Decatur and Seminole Counties.

Bainbridge Public Safety Chief Investigator Frank Green, deputized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, led the investigation into a network of cocaine sales involving approximately 75 people operating in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

The 23 people arrested Wednesday—including two major suspected suppliers in Donalsonville, Ga.—had been indicted by a federal jury in Macon, Ga., earlier this year and represent the key suspects in the case, Green said Thursday. While 19 of the 23 suspects arrested Wednesday made their first appearance in federal court in Albany on Thursday morning, the investigation is still ongoing and more arrests are planned, Green said.

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Cocaine, cash worth millions seized

Within the last 15 months of the multi-agency investigation, officers seized approximately 25 kilograms of cocaine with a minimum street value of $2.5 million, according to Green. Officers also seized more than $1 million in U.S. currency during that time, he said.

“This is the largest amount of cocaine that has ever been seized in Bainbridge and Decatur County, that we know of,” Green said.

All of the suspects are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Wednesday’s arrests include one made in Atlanta, two in Donalsonville, one in Albany, four in Bainbridge, five in Dothan, Ala., one in Colquitt, one in Brinson and two in Iron City, located between Donalsonville and Bainbridge.

About $50,000 in cash was seized just on Wednesday, according to Green. During the course of the investigation, the largest seizure of cash was $325,000 and the smallest was $25,000.

Alleged cocaine ring stretched from Atlanta to Panama City

According to Green, a joint investigation uncovered evidence that three people in the Donalsonville area were supplying the corner of Southwest Georgia with almost all of its cocaine supply.

[singlepic id=1287 w=160 h=120 float=left]The suppliers were believed to have been obtaining cocaine in bulk from Atlanta, Ga., and then re-selling it to other dealers in a large area extending between Columbus, Ga., and Panama City, Fla., Green said.

In addition to Bainbridge and Donalsonville, the suppliers were observed frequently traveling to the Georgia cities of Albany, Colquitt and Blakely, the area around Dothan, Ala., and part of North Florida.

The federal investigation focused on three Donalsonville-area suspects, two of whom are brothers, Green said.

[singlepic id=1290 w=160 h=120 float=right]The Donalsonville brothers were identified as Carlos Johnson and 32-year-old Kelvin Johnson, according to a list of indictments obtained from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District Of Georgia’s Albany Division. Kelvin Johnson was commonly known by the alias of “Popcorn,” according to law enforcement.

Carlos Johnson is charged with three counts of distribution of cocaine base, also known as “crack cocaine,” and eight counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Kelvin Johnson is charged with three counts of distribution of cocaine base and three counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

According to the indictments, the U.S. District Court has ordered that all of the defendants forfeit “any and all property” derived from any proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the offenses; and “any and all property, real or personal, used and intended to be used in any manner or part to commit and to facilitate” the offenses.

19 indicted in federal court

Editor’s Note: The list of indictments obtained from the U.S. District Court did not specify middle names, ages, or hometowns of any of those charged. A court employee said the indictments were all it had available at the present time.

Both the Johnson brothers and 17 others are charged with “possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine and 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base” within the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia between December 2008 and February 2011.

The other 17 named in the indictments are: Nichole Sheffield, John Harris, Maurice Scott, Tyrone Caine, Bernard Graham, Erica Johnson, Anthony Shuler, Jimmy Vickers, Brandon McKnight, Terrance Davis, Casey Clemons, Travis Bruton, Markise Stroud, James Wilson, Ron Goss, Antonio Winbush and T’Michael Jones.

A copy of the indictments in PDF format is available on The Post-Searchlight’s Web site, www.thepostsearchlight.com

Federal Drug Indictments – 03/17/2011 (PDF, 976 KB)

Numerous agencies helped out

Green credited the leadership of Bainbridge Public Safety Director Larry Funderburke for his active participation in the investigation. Green also thanked Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby and the Bainbridge City Council for their support of anti-drug efforts.

According to Green, agencies contributing their help over the course of the multi-year investigation are as follows: Bainbridge Public Safety investigators Chris Jordan, Mark Esquivel and Anthony Stubbs, members of the BPS VIPER community policing team, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency offices in Columbus, Ga., Atlanta, Ga., and Tallahassee, Fla., the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Donalsonville, Ga., Police Department, the Seminole County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Office, the Colquitt, Ga., Police Department, the Miller County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Office, the Pataula Drug Task Force, the Georgia State Patrol, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Albany/Doughtery County (Ga.) Drug Unit, the Calhoun County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Office, the West Metro Drug Unit in Atlanta, the Colquitt County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Office, the Jackson County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office, the Houston County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole and Georgia probation officers.

Green said he particularly wanted to thank his fellow Bainbridge Public Safety investigators for their assistance.

“We have some top-notch investigators here that made it easier to investigate this case,” Green said. “I think our department has some of the best investigators in Georgia. The VIPER team also played a big part during the course of this investigation.”

Note: Not all of the people pictured below are charged in federal court. Some are facing local drug-related charges in Seminole County.

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