A Georgia inmate serving a 25-year prison sentence for trafficking methamphetamine faces another two decades behind bars after admitting to arranging drug sales from the slammer, federal prosecutors said.
Frankie Baza, 33, of Flowery Branch, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine from prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.
Authorities said Baza, who is incarcerated at Wilcox State Prison in South Georgia, directed the sale of “a significant quantity of meth” at a metro Atlanta motel by using contraband cellphones.
Authorities in Athens-Clarke County developed a confidential informant in January 2019 who reportedly told investigators Baza was their source for meth since 2018 despite being in prison, prosecutors said in a news release.
The informant called Baza behind bars and ordered a large amount of meth. He was then directed to a Homewood Suites in metro Atlanta to meet Baza’s associate, authorities said. A surveillance operation was set up, and agents reportedly watched as Baza’s associate walked through the motel parking lot carrying a bag containing drugs.
“The associate was taken into custody and a legal search of the motel room resulted in the seizure of a large amount of methamphetamine, more than two ounces of heroin, a cellphone and a shotgun,” authorities said in the release.
Baza’s associate, who was not identified, reportedly admitted to renting the room and using it to sell meth and heroin. Baza later admitted to directing the sale of 1 kilogram of meth, according to prosecutors.
The Hall County man, who already had a lengthy criminal history, was one of more than 80 people charged last spring following a sweeping, two-year drug trafficking investigation. “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 the state.
It resulted in the seizure of more than 58 kilograms of methamphetamine, more than two kilograms of heroin, 31 guns and $56,000, as well as lengthy prison sentences for many of the people swept up in the investigation.
Following Wednesday’s plea, Baza faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release and a $1 million fine. His sentencing is scheduled for May 6.
In the release, DEA Agent Robert Murphy called Baza’s conviction a win for both law enforcement and the community.
“Mr. Baza can no longer ‘push’ dangerous drugs while on the streets or while serving time in prison,” Murphy said.
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Credit: Channel 2 Action News