Drug trafficking in McDuffie County has taken a serious hit with the recent federal indictments of 23 people -- the majority of whom are local residents, authorities say.
"This is a substantial blow to the drug trafficking that has been going on in McDuffie County for more than a year," said Major Ronnie Williamson of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department. "This wasn't your ordinary type drug case, which is why we had to call in federal authorities for their assistance."
Nineteen of the 23 people recently indicted by a federal grand jury in Savannah actually live in McDuffie County, authorities say. A 56-count indictment was returned against the defendants -- most of them arrested by local, state and federal authorities on Monday, Sept. 27.
Charges in the indictment against the defendants involve drug conspiracy. Drugs involved included crack cocaine and cocaine, as well as Scheduled I and II narcotics. In some instances, some of the defendants were charged with possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, according to court records obtained from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Savannah.
"These are some real serious charges against these people," Maj. Williamson said.
McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall said he knew from intelligence reports and others that there was a serious drug trafficking problem in the county.
It led him to call federal authorities for assistance.
The sheriff said the operation was conducted using undercover agents.
"We're going to see to it that operations like these don't operate long in McDuffie County," Sheriff Marshall said.
Those indicted included:
William Leon Woods, III, 30, of Atlanta;
Kevin Elliott Gaines, 29, of Thomson;
Antonio Dantwan Grisson, 27, of Thomson;
Eddie Dewayne Gallison, 27, of Thomson;
Gregory Valentino Ivery, 24, of Thomson;
Solomon Mandrell Grier, 32, of Thomson;
Devicco Troy Moss, 29, of Thomson;
Cedric Ferlando Johnson, 30, of Thomson;
Robert Lee Belton, Jr., 32, of Thomson;
Chris Antonio Moss, 33, of Thomson;
Santiono Tywan Cartledge, 29, of Thomson;
Tito Navada Hatcher, 37, of Sparta;
Ernest Roymettris Hatcher, 28, of Sparta;
Sanchez Vanquis Jones, 27, of Thomson;
Robert Lee Williams, 31, of Thomson;
Robert Lee Neal, 49, of Thomson;
James Bouttry, Jr., 24, of Thomson;
Jamarco Quilton Lee, 26, Thomson;
Mario Deangelo Clemons, 28, of Thomson;
Quantavious Antwan Dawson, 26, of Thomson;
Christine Michelle Willingham, 36, of Appling;
April Olivia Dawson, 37, of Thomson; and
Debra Gaines, 48, of Thomson.