2011-03-23 / Front Page

Major Drug Bust results in arrests

by MCL staff writer

Nineteen of the 27 people arrested in the multicounty drug and dog fighting raid made their initial appearance in federal court in Albany last Thursday, March 17th.

Dozens of family members from Alabama, Southwest Georgia, all the way to Macon packed the courtroom at Albany’s Federal Courthouse to hear the proceedings.

The suspects were taken into the federal courtroom wearing prison jumpsuits, in handcuffs and leg irons. They were read their charges from a grand jury indictment, given their rights, and bond hearings were set for next week. Some defendants were granted bond, and have been released.

Brothers, Carlos Johnson and Kelvin “Popcorn” Johnson, who are being called the ringleaders of the Donalsonville operation, were first making their appearances.

If convicted, the suspects could face between 20 years to life in prison. They are being held at the Irwin County jail.

One of the suspected drug houses in Donalsonville One of the suspected drug houses in Donalsonville Federal prosecutors said more charges and more arrests are expected.

Here are the names of some suspects indicted: Carlos Johnson, Kelvin Johnson, Nichole Sheffield, John Harris, Maurice Scott, Tyrone Caine, Bernard Graham, Erica Johnson, Anthony Shuler, Jimmy Vickers, Brandon McKnight, Terrance Davis, Casey Clemons, Travis Bruton, Marikes Stroud, James Wilson, Ron Goss, Antonio Winbush and T’michael Jones.

On Wednesday, BPS Investigators, the Bainbridge Viper team, who had been deputized as DEA agents, and numerous other law enforcement agencies in Southwest Georgia, northwest Florida and Southeast Alabama began the roundup of major cocaine providers to 3 states who were booked on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine over 5 kilograms.

BPS Captain Frank Green credited the extraordinary work and diligence of Bainbridge investigators and the Bainbridge Viper team who put in thousands of man hours developing the leads and putting the evidence together that dismantles this entire cocaine organization.

One of the suspected fighting dogs ready to fight. One of the suspected fighting dogs ready to fight. Captain Green stated that the operation began with $ 1,000 buys and busts. The operation succeeded in moving up to the suppliers buying cocaine in $10,000 increments, and they successfully busted a number on that level. “But even at that level,” Captain Green stated, “there was always someone ready to step in and fill the void.” The operation continued to work its way up the supply line.

Their investigation quickly determined that Donalsonville residents 32 year old Kelvin “Popcorn” Johnson and his brother 27 year old Carlos Johnson were the kingpins in this 3 state area.

They ascertained the cocaine being supplied to the Johnsons was being brought in from Mexico and Haiti to suppliers in Atlanta and south Florida. Major customers of the cocaine pipeline in Albany, Tallahassee, Panama City, Dothan, and surrounding areas were identified including 75 dealers above street level.

More suspected dogs getting ready for a fight. More suspected dogs getting ready for a fight. Working in concert with the West Metro Drug Unit in Atlanta, DEA, GBI and GSP, the operation began to bust shipments of cocaine coming from Atlanta heading to Donalsonville.

Sheriff H.E. Glass stated that it took the coordinated work of local law enforcement agencies in this area working with DEA, GBI and other agencies to make this work. A number of stolen goods from Miller County burglaries have been recovered in this operation with area and state law enforcement agencies.

Several months ago, the first shipment was grabbed consisting of 8 kilograms of cocaine (a kilogram costs about $30,000) and $25,000 in cash was seized. Among the subsequent seizures were 2 kilograms of cocaine and $80,000 in cash and in February another 2 kilograms of cocaine and $125,000 in cash. On Wednesday, they seized a quantity of cocaine and marijuana plus over $50,000 in cash. Captain Green stated that over the course of the investigation, his officers seized a total of over 25 kilograms of cocaine and $1 million in cash.

All suspects arrested on Wednesday were transported to Seminole County Sheriffs office where they were booked and then turned over to US Marshals who transported them to federal court in Albany. Seminole County, who participated in the arrests, provided the pictures of suspects booked.

Public Safety Director Larry Funderburke and BPS Captain Frank Green praised the Bainbridge investigative unit, saying it is without a doubt one of the finest in the state.

Six search warrants were executed today by members of the South Georgia Drug Task Force in conjunction with the Donalsonville Police Department for suspected drug trafficking around Donalsonville. Norred & Associates, an Atlantabased private security and executive protection firm, had previously conducted a dog fighting investigation involving the same suspects and alerted police about possible dog fighting in November of 2010.

At least 12 dogs suspected of being used for dog fighting activity were found today by police, and the information a firm provided is part of an ongoing investigation with dog fighting charges pending. The firm, in conjunction with the Atlanta Humane Society are coordinating efforts to vets and rescue the dogs.

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