Cobb promoter gets 10 years for leading large drug-trafficking ring

A Cobb concert promoter was sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison Wednesday for conspiracy to distribute thousands of MDMA pills through raves and music festivals across the Southeast.

Woodie Louis Ochle, the 40-year-old co-owner of Freakstep Promotions, was identified as the leader of a drug-trafficking organization that distributed MDMA —   also known as Ecstasy or Molly — in multiple states, including Georgia, according to court testimony.

Ochle pleaded guilty in April to charges of conspiracy to distribute Ecstasy in 2015 and 2016 and possession of the drug with intent to distribute.

Federal agencies began investigating the "large-scale smuggling and distribution" of drugs from Europe through the U.S. Postal Service in 2016, a press release said. That year, U.S. Customs seized two packages containing a combined 2,000 "Red Supreme" Ecstasy pills at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The packages were separately destined for Kenneth Howard and Jennifer Petitjean in Alabama. An investigation found the drugs were ultimately delivered to Ochle and Howard’s cousin, Kevin Pederson.

Petitjean said she was receiving package deliveries for Shawn Perkins in Birmingham, according to the press release. Ecstasy, Xanax, LSD, cocaine and marijuana were seized from Pederson’s vehicle, his apartment and the mail.

Those drugs were intended for distribution at Spring Weekend — a beach music festival that caters to a college-age crowd — in Panama City Beach, Florida, according to testimony.

Throughout the investigation, about 30 pounds of illegal drugs, including about 20,000 Ecstasy pills and four pounds of crystal Molly, were confiscated.

Alabama judge Madeline Haikala sentenced Ochle to 10½ years. Ochle “created both addicts and victims,” according to U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town.

Pedersen, 28, Perkins, 22, Petitjean, 31, and Howard, 38, all pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to distribute MDMA. Howard received eight weekends in jail; the rest await sentencing.

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