VALDOSTA — Suspects from Lowndes, Lanier and Tift counties were among dozens of people recently indicted as part of a major multi-agency drug trafficking operation centered on Coffee County, federal authorities said Thursday.
Dubbed Operation Sandy Bottom, the investigation focused on the east side of Douglas, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The 57-count indictment alleges that the conspiracy, controlled by a subset of the violent Gangster Disciples street gang, used guns, violence and fear to control methamphetamine trafficking operations throughout the community and to enable contraband distribution inside Georgia prisons.
Each of the defendants is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and an amount of cocaine, crack cocaine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, marijuana, eutylone (bath salts) and asprazolam (Xanax), the statement said.
The charge carries a possible penalty of up to life in prison and there is no parole in the federal system.
The justice department said the people indicted from the South Central Georgia area include:
– Robert Lee Peak IV, a.k.a. “Peako,” 35, of Valdosta also charged with distribution of cocaine;
– Tomika Nicole Evans, a.k.a. “T-Dog,” 37, of Lakeland; and
– Michael Latrella Scott, a.k.a. “Micah Scott,” a.k.a. “Mike G,” 35, of Tifton.
Altogether, 48 defendants — mostly from the Douglas area — are charged with 129 felonies. Three guards from Wheeler and Dooly state prisons were among the defendants.
The investigation began in 2018 when the Coffee County Drug Unit, responding to complaints about the increasing level of violence and drug activity in the Sand Ridge neighborhood, asked the FBI and the Coastal Georgia Violent Gang Task Force for help, the statement said.
The indictment says the conspiracy controlled multiple “trap houses” to store and distribute illegal drugs, primarily methamphetamine, coordinated by leaders of a gang which distributed drugs throughout Coffee, Bacon, Emanuel, Jeff Davis, Pierce and Wheeler counties along with other parts of Georgia.
Investigators infiltrated the operation, intercepting several kilograms of drugs and nearly two dozen illegally possessed firearms, along with seven vehicles and more than $12,000 in cash identified as drug-trafficking proceeds, the justice department said.
Multiple law enforcement agencies carried out raids Tuesday to arrest defendants who were not already in custody.
Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.