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Georgia prison drug ring busted by feds


Fourteen Georgians, including eight prison inmates, were charged Wednesday with participating in a drug trafficking ring operating in southeastern Georgia.

According to a federal indictment, the group began distributing methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl as far back as 2018 in at least seven counties: Bacon, Brantley, Camden, Coffee, Glynn, Pierce and Ware.

All 14 are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute the drugs. They face sentences of 10 years in prison up to life, along with substantial fines and at least five years of supervised release after completing any prison term.

“The use of contraband cell phones and other devices inside prisons for coordination of criminal activity outside prison walls is an increasing danger to our communities,” said David Estes, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

“Our law enforcement partners, including the Georgia Department of Corrections, did outstanding work in identifying and infiltrating this network to being an end to this illegal conspiracy.”

The inmates charged in the indictment include Jonathan Alvin Pope, 38, of Calhoun State Prison; Christy Renee Pope, 42, of Pulaski State Prison; Jason Wildes, 40, of Ware County Detention Center; Clark Bennett, 50, of Floyd County Prison; and James Edward Lane, 55, of Dooly County Detention Center.

 Also charged were three inmates at the Brantley County Detention Center: Kristina Ashley Montgomery, 37; Tony Marvin Jones, 63; and Michael Mancil, 45.

The other defendants include Richard Reginald Perkins Jr., 46; Joshua Lance Lee, 45, and Sara Elizabeth Laroche, 37, all of Nahunta; Jode Lee Weaver, 41, and Ashlee Pope, 32, both of Waycross; and Lena Leigh Davis, 45, of Homeland.

The case was investigated by the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces operation, working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Savannah office; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Georgia Department of Corrections, and several local sheriff’s departments.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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