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15 arrested in $3.5M meth ring bust in North Georgia, GBI says

Several law enforcement agencies arrested 15 suspects accused of participating in a North Georgia meth trafficking ring that circulated $3.5 million worth of drugs in the past five months, authorities said.

Local, state and federal law enforcement officer executed 10 search warrants and more than a dozen arrest warrants across several counties Friday, the GBI said in a news release.

Through the searches, about 9 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, an ounce of marijuana, $13,000 cash, firearms and numerous vehicles were seized, the release said. The street value of the drugs is estimated to be $155,000. 

The sting Friday took place across six North Georgia counties.  (The GBI)

The search warrants were executed in Hall, Jackson, Barrow, Banks, White and Lumpkin counties, the release said.

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One of the men arrested, James Chrisopher Hood, 34, of Alto, is accused of fleeing Georgia State Patrol on Friday in Hall County, leading to a brief chase, GSP said in a news release. The chase ended with a PIT Maneuver, wrecking Hood’s car on Thurman Tanner Parkway near Chamblee Road, and Hood was taken into custody.

James Chrisopher Hood (Jackson County Sheriff's Office)

In connection with the chase, Hood faces several traffic-related charges, including a count of attempting to elude an officer, GSP said.

Hood, along with the others arrested in the sting, face multiple charges under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization statute, the GBI said. Everyone arrested was taken to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, but authorities were still searching for Rickie Nation, 59, of Maysville late last week.

Nation later turned himself in, the GBI said in a tweet Sunday.

Rickie Nation (Photo: GBI)

The other 13 people arrested were:

• Larry Dwayne Fricks, 27, of Gainesville

• Michael Douglas Gribble, 42, of Commerce

• Stephanie Mae Pritchett, 38, of Winder

• Chelsea Lauren Fricks, 28, of Gainesville

• Brandon Dwight Wood, 37, of Maysville

• Dwayne Eldon Fricks, 52, of Maysville

• Walter Cecil Whitehead, 45, of Braselton

• Jared Cody Eller, 26, of Cleveland

• Timothy Freeman, 59, of Gainesville

• Matthew Lee Gerrin, 31, of Gillsville

• Marty Thomas, 36, of Hancock State Prison

• Gary Loyd Brown, 56, of Dahlonega

• William Dale Gray, 47, of Commerce

Top row, left to right: Richard Frank Simmons, William Dale Gray, Jared Cody Eller and Larry Dwayne Fricks. Middle row, left to right: Dwayne Eldon Fricks, Dwights Brandon Wood, Chelsea Lauren Fricks and Gary Loyd Brown. Bottom row, left to right: Matthew Lee Gerrin, Michael Douglas Gribble, Stephanie Mae Pritchett and Timothy Ray Freeman. The mugshot for Walter Cecil Whitehead was not available.  (Jackson County Sheriff's Office)

The law enforcement agencies involved in the bust include the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office (ARDEO), FBI’s North Georgia Major Offender Task Force, the GBI, Commerce Police Department, the Georgia Department of Corrections and the sheriff’s offices in Banks, Barrow, Hall and Jackson counties. 

ARDEO consists of deputies and officers from the Georgia National Guard County Drug Task Force, the Department of Public Safety, the GBI, police departments in Cleveland, Lavonia and Taccoa and sheriff’s offices in Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Jackson, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns and White counties.

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