Two dozen defendants indicted in investigation of Washington, Ga., area drug trafficking operation

AUGUSTA, GA:  A multi-agency drug trafficking investigation has culminated in the criminal conspiracy indictment of 21 defendants in the Southern District of Georgia.

Operation Wynner Storm, initiated by the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, and coordinated through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), targeted gang-related drug trafficking in the Wilkes, Lincoln and McDuffie County areas north of Augusta, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The primary charge in the indictment, Conspiracy to Distribute and to Possess with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and Marijuana, carries a statutory penalty upon conviction of 10 years to life in federal prison and fines of up to $10 million, followed by not less than five years of supervised release.

There is no parole in the federal system.

“A collaborative effort with our law enforcement partners is the key to combatting large drug trafficking organizations,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Our rural communities, particularly, benefit from the coordination of local, state and federal agencies in the fight against criminal street gangs.” 

As described in the newly unsealed 51-count indictment in USA v. Wynn et al., Operation Wynner Storm describes a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine or 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, along with cocaine and marijuana, dating back at least to April 2019. Many of the defendants also are charged with illegal firearms possession, and the indictment includes the forfeiture of eight guns seized during the investigation.

An additional 18 defendants are being prosecuted on state charges related to the investigation.

“On behalf of local law enforcement and the good citizens of Wilkes County, we appreciate the hard work by the Safe Streets Task Force in making all of Wilkes County a safer place to live,” said Mark Moore, Sheriff of Wilkes County.

“Citizens in the communities affected by organizations who are alleged to peddle drugs and weapons are immediately safer following the collaborative effort of the FBI and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “We are all committed to investigate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.”

“ATF will continue to dedicate federal resources in conjunction with crucial federal and local law enforcement partners to the pursuit of eradicating and forestalling criminal activity in communities we serve,” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“These indictments are the result of successful collaborative efforts between state, local, and federal agencies,” said Vic Reynolds, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “We will continue to work with our partners to investigate drug trafficking and keep Georgia safe.”

Those charged in Operation Wynner Storm and their charges include:

Initial appearance hearings in U.S. District Court have been underway for the defendants.

Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.

Agencies investigating the case include the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Probation Office; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; the Georgia Department of Community Supervision; the Georgia State Patrol; the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office; the Taliaferro County Sheriff’s Office; the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office; the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia G. Rhodes.

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