Final defendants in Washington, Ga., area drug trafficking conspiracy enter guilty pleas

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

AUGUSTA, GA:  The last of 21 defendants in a Wilkes County, Ga., area drug trafficking conspiracy have now entered guilty pleas, wrapping up prosecution of a crime ring that distributed methamphetamine and other drugs in the Southern District of Georgia.

Timothy Derrick Pettus, a/k/a “TP,” 54, of Duluth, Ga., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and Marijuana, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Pettus’ plea represents the final determination of guilt for the 21 defendants indicted in July 2021 in USA v. Wynn et. al, dubbed Operation Wynner Storm.

“The teamwork of the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office with other local, state, and federal agencies identified and dismantled a violence-prone criminal organization distributing dangerous drugs throughout a largely rural northern part of the Southern District of Georgia,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Our communities are safer with these gun-carrying meth merchants off the streets.”

Initiated by the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and coordinated through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Operation Wynner Storm targeted gang-related drug trafficking in the Wilkes, Lincoln and McDuffie County areas north of Augusta, culminating in a 51 count federal indictment. An additional 18 defendants were prosecuted on related state charges.

The two-year investigation began in September 2019 with information that the conspirators, led by Exjaben Demontaz Hardman, a/k/a “Zay,” 43, of Washington, Ga., Calvin Terrill Wynn, a/k/a “Swang Lo,” a/k/a “Lo,” 34, of Washington, and others, were distributing large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs throughout the greater Wilkes County area using a network of street dealers. After months of investigation and controlled purchases, agents conducted nearly 20 court-authorized searches and seized methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, drug sales paraphernalia, cash and illegally possessed firearms.

Hardman is serving a 135-month prison sentence and Wynn is serving a 66-month sentence after each pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, Methamphetamine. Other defendants are serving sentences of up to 78 months on similar charges, while Pettus and five remaining defendants await sentencing.

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“Citizens in the communities affected by these defendants’ peddling drugs and weapons are immediately safer following their removal from the streets,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “As this exhaustive investigation comes to an end, the FBI’s job is not complete. We will continue working with our partners to investigate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations here in Georgia.” 

“This case exemplifies our commitment to prevent drug violence and criminal activity from poisoning our communities,” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “It also sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute the leaders and members of these violent drug enterprises.”

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

Agencies investigating the case include the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Probation Office; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; the Georgia Department of Community Supervision; the Georgia State Patrol; the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office; the Taliaferro County Sheriff’s Office; the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office; the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney and Criminal Division Chief Patricia G. Rhodes.