68 indicted on federal charges in drug trafficking investigation

The operation resulted in the seizure of more than 58 kilograms of meth, more than two kilograms of heroin, 31 guns, and $56,000, authorities said.

Credit: Department of Justice

Credit: Department of Justice

The operation resulted in the seizure of more than 58 kilograms of meth, more than two kilograms of heroin, 31 guns, and $56,000, authorities said.

Nearly 70 people, some of them from metro Atlanta, have been indicted on federal charges following a 24-month drug trafficking investigation, authorities said Friday.

The investigation, dubbed “Operation Wu Block,” was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and several law enforcement agencies across Georgia, according to a news release.

The operation resulted in the seizure of more than 58 kilograms of methamphetamine, more than two kilograms of heroin, 31 guns and $56,000, officials said in the release.

A 2-year drug investigation by local and federal officials resulted in the seizure of large quantities of heroin and meth and federal charges for 68 people, authorities said. 

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It also led to federal indictments for 68 suspects on charges including conspiracy, possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, distribution of controlled substances and weapons charges, investigators said.

Penalties for those arrested in the sting range from five years to life in federal prison, depending on the charges.

“Law enforcement in Georgia (is) aggressively working to find and arrest individuals distributing dangerous drugs in our communities,” U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler said in a statement. “This investigation is a textbook example of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies working together to stem the flow of illegal narcotics and the severe damage they cause within our communities.”

So far, federal grand juries have returned 19 indictments charging dozens of suspects in the case, but authorities said additional arrests are likely.

As of Friday, those charged in the case include: 

• Joey Arguelles, 24, of Hart County

• Frankie Baza, 32, of Gwinnett County

• Jason Monroe Bellew, 35, of Elbert County

• Byron Bennett, 41, of Athens-Clarke County

• Peggy Bentley, 48, of Oconee County

• Latasha Bishop, 33, of Athens-Clarke County

• Chuckferrio Booker, 30, of Athens-Clarke County

• Benjamin Bray, 23, of Madison County

• Haley Carter, 21, of Athens-Clarke County

• Jason Casey, 38, of Oconee County

• Justin Clouse, 38, of Athens-Clarke County

• Joshua Wayne Coker, 38, of Hart County

• Larry Thomas Coker, 34, of Oconee County

• Steven Mark Cook, 32, of Athens-Clarke County

• Mishel Cruz Sanchez, 29, of Gwinnett County

• Ashley Davis, 26, of Madison County

• Jasmin Duarte, 26, of Oconee County

• Crystal Eddy, 38, of Athens-Clarke County

• Jeri Renee Elliott, 49, of Athens-Clarke County

• Juan Espino, 45, of Oconee County

• Angela Fain, 48, of Franklin County

• William Fain, 55, of Franklin County

• Thomas Joey Fowler, of Hart County

• Jennifer Gee, 33, of Athens-Clarke County

• Howard Burnham Gowen, 50, of Athens-Clarke County

• Jonathan Green, 34, of Athens-Clarke County

• Cierra Gresham, 23, of Athens-Clarke County

• Maurice Hancock, 46, of Barrow County

• Lazaro Hernandez, 28, of Cobb County

• Bruce Hicks, 39, of Madison County

• Kristy Lynn Houseman, 40, of Athens-Clarke County

• William Mathew Howard, 45, of Arlington, Virginia

• Russel Huckeba, 40, of Gwinnett County

• Kenneth Lee Jarrett, 59, of Pickens County

• Ronald Kelley, 49, of Madison County

• Jessica Kraps, 35, of Athens-Clarke County

• Amy Laura Leonard, 51, of Johnson City, Tennessee

• Dwayne Maddox, 34, of Athens-Clarke County

• Ashley Michelle Manley, 25,  of Athens-Clarke County

• Esmeralda Mata-Bustos, 38, of Gwinnett County

• Daniel Keith McCullough , 27, of Hart County

• Kyle Melton, 34, of Athens-Clarke County

• Andrew Moon, 31, of Athens-Clarke County

• Chandler Moore, 35, of Bristol, Tennessee

• Rodney Lewis Moore, 33, of Athens-Clarke County

• Scott Moore, 39, of Hart County

• Mechelle Morris, 44, of Oglethorpe County

• Madlyn Vista Mull, 21, of Hart County

• Gregory Mulligan, 29, of Athens-Clarke County

• Michelle Mutch, 27, of Athens-Clarke County

• Greyson Newsome, 31, of Athens-Clarke County

• Audrey Lynn Paige, 30, of Athens-Clarke County

• Cindy Isamara Ramos, 28, of Cobb County

• Mathew Shaver, 43, of Oglethorpe County

• Mario Alberto Silverio, 40, of Cobb County

• Shana Leeanne Smith, 31, of Oconee County

• Kenneth Sterling, 50, of Athens-Clarke County

• Pamela Lynn Sutton, 38, of Athens-Clarke County

• Steven Turbeville, 38, of Barrow County

• Ricardo Turrubiartes Amaro, 22, of Gwinnett County

• Cecil Wampler, 35, of Bristol, Tennessee

• Travis Wheeler, 36, of Athens-Clarke County

• April Wolford, 29, of Athens-Clarke County

• Garrett Wolford, 33, of  Athens-Clarke County

• Darien Woodrum, 27, of Athens-Clarke County

• James Andrew Young, 26, of Oglethorpe County

• Ricky Keith Young, 32, of Walton County

• David Zavala, 28, of Gordon County

In other news:

Among some of the biggest announcements that came out of an afternoon news conference by Gov. Brian Kemp, was that bars and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen June 1.