Twenty-seven Waycrossans are among 36 people who have been indicted on federal charges, some of them arrested in Waycross Thursday by U.S. Marshal Service personnel.
Moreover, the overall case involves a confederation of conspirators who sought to traffick cocaine, crack cocaine, meth and marijuana across a region that includes Jacksonville, Fla., Ware, Pierce and Glynn counties and other locales in Georgia and Florida. As federal authorities have arrested 30 of the 36 suspects they’ve seized tens of thousands of dollars and dozens of guns.
A pair of California men are among the suspects as are people from Blackshear, Alma and Homerville.
It was not clear Friday afternoon which or how many of the suspects were arrested during Thursday’s federal sweep here.
Two federal indictments were unsealed in U.S. District Court in Waycross Friday morning charging 36 residents of south Georgia, north Florida and California, with conspiring to traffic large amounts of meth, cocaine and other drugs, said James Durham, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
The indictments follow a joint federal and state investigation into violent gang and drug trafficking activities in the Ware-Pierce-Glynn region, he said. The undercover investigation began more than a year ago and was led by the FBI, the Waycross Police Department and the Ware County Sheriff’s Office.
Durham identified the suspects and their charges as follows:
•Dedric L. King, 37, of Waycross (a/k/a “Ced” and “Sanchez”)
•Carlos Ruelas, 35, of Bakersfield, Calif.
•Giovanni Esquivel, 36, of Bakersfield, Calif. (a/k/a “Worm” and “Gio”)
•Terraca Parker, 24, of Jacksonville, Fla.
•Markey Pittman, 28, Jacksonville, Fla. (a/k/a “Jap”)
•Paul Dixon, 45, Waycross,
•Ben Dukes, 80, Waycross (a/k/a “Pops”)
•Calvin Ivey, 61, Waycross (a/k/a “Tex”)
•John Howard, 54, Waycross,
•Tarence Washington, 40, Waycross (a/k/a “T”)
•Quanshard Dukes, 27, Waycross-Brunswick (a/k/a “Shad”)
•Shampoire Orange, 35, Waycross (a/k/a “Po”)
•Wilbur Hightower, 38, Waycross
•Ishmil Strickland, 26, Blackshear (a/k/a “Ish” and “Convertible Ish”)
•Stefan Williams, 33, Waycross
•Myron Bolden, 36, Waycross-Homerville (a/k/a “Snap” and “Snapp Paid”)
•Corey Riggs, 32, Waycross
•Elmo Robinson, 33, Waycross (a/k/a “Gutta Kolombo” and “Macon Mo”)
•Esquadrick Williams, 35, Waycross (a/k/a “Lamon”)
•Lashadre Smith, 26, Waycross (a/k/a “Shafa” and “Shaffa BillytheKid Smith”)
•Jason Cooper, 24, Waycross
•Antwan Clark, 32, Waycross
•Dustin Steedley, 31, Waycross
•Tyler Council, 22, Blackshear
•Christopher Wells, 29, Alma (a/k/a “Jugg”)
•Phillip Johnson, 25, Waycross (a/k/a “Gunplay”)
•Clarence Kelly, 29, Waycross (a/k/a “Buckshot”)
•Randy Hawkins, 45, Waycross
•Joshua Beverly, 28, Blackshear
•Alvertis Beddis, 27, Waycross (a/k/a “Man Man” and “Draco”)
•Ja’lyn Kincey, 22, Waycross (a/k/a “Monk”)
•Jerone Martin, 26, Waycross (a/k/a “Rome” and “Jermone”)
•Zytrevis Robinson, 27, Waycross (a/k/a “Webbie”)
•Ikeya Jones, 21, Waycross (a/k/a “Juvie Mona”)
•Lakendra Norton, 28, Waycross
•Tanya Johnson, 29, Blackshear
Some of the defendants — Esquadrick Williams, Quanshard Dukes, Jason Cooper, Antwan Clark, Giovanni Esquivel and Zytrevis Robinson — remain at large.
Judge Stan Baker presided over the first appearance proceedings for 14 of the suspects Friday morning in Waycross, five in one group and nine in another.
Upon conviction, many of the indictees face up to life in a federal prison, said Durham. According to the prosecution, they also face fines of up to $1 million.
Durham emphasized that the indictments are only accusations and are not evidence of guilt.
“The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Durham.
Assistant United States Attorneys Marcela C. Mateo and Jennifer J. Kirkland are prosecuting the cases on behalf of the United States.
The Glynn County Police Department, the Brunswick Police Department, the Blackshear Police Department, the U.S. Marshal Service, the U.S. Probation Office and the Georgia Department of Community Supervision also assisted in the investigation.