Seven people charged in Augusta-area drug trafficking operation

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

AUGUSTA, GA:  Seven people have been indicted on charges related to a major methamphetamine-trafficking organization blamed for at least one overdose death.

As described in the newly unsealed indictment in USA v. Wheatley et. al, the investigation in Operation Wheat Fields dates back to early 2018 and includes allegations of trafficking in large amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana, along with multiple firearms charges, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The conspiracy charge levied against each of the defendants carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to life in prison, and there is no parole in the federal system.

“Our office continues the relentless pursuit of drug trafficking operations and eliminating the violent crime these enterprises generate,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “In collaboration with our law enforcement partners, these investigations and prosecutions will make our communities safer.”

Operation Wheat Fields is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces investigation that identified a pipeline of illegal drugs from Mexico routed through Atlanta and into the Augusta area.  The investigation led to multiple searches of residences and hotel rooms.


All of the defendants charged in the indictment have appeared before a magistrate in U.S. District Court. They include:

  • Jayson Dwayne Wheatley, 41, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine, 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and an Amount of Heroin and Marijuana; Distribution of Heroin; Possession of 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute; six counts of Use of a Communications Facility, relating to the use of Facebook Messenger and a cellphone to facilitate the conspiracy; and Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon;
  • Jeffrey Mitchell Granade, 48, of Evans, Ga., charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine, 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and an Amount of Heroin and Marijuana; Possession of 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine; Possession of Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; and Possession of Firearms by a Convicted Felon;
  • Steven Curtis Newman, 55, of Martinez, Ga., charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine, 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and an Amount of Heroin and Marijuana; and Possession of 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine;
  • Richard Travis Bargeron, 41, of Augusta, currently an inmate at the Coffee County Correctional Facility, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine, 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and an Amount of Heroin and Marijuana; Possession of 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine; Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
  • Alvin Wayne Snellgrove, 63, of Evans, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine, 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and an Amount of Heroin and Marijuana; Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute; and two counts of Use of a Communication Facility;
  • Heather Nicole Disher, 42, of Grovetown, Ga., charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine, 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and an Amount of Heroin and Marijuana; Possession of Methamphetamine; and three counts of Use of a Communications Facility; and,
  • Dana Alexander Rau, 48, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine, 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and an Amount of Heroin and Marijuana; Possession of Methamphetamine; Use of a Communications Facility, relating to the use of a cell phone to facilitate the conspiracy; and Possession of a Firearm by a User of Illegal Drugs.

Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.

This investigation took place under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer.


Operation Wheat Fields is being investigated by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office; and the Swainsboro Police Department, and is being prosecuted for the United States by Southern District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorney and Criminal Division Chief Patricia G. Rhodes.