BRUNSWICK, Ga. -

A federal indictment was unsealed earlier this month charging 12 defendants with conspiring to traffic large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, oxycodone and other drugs in Appling, Bacon, Coffee, Jeff Davis, Telfair and Wayne Counties.

The charges resulted from a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and local sheriff's offices, with assistance from the Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office and the United States Marshal's Service.

If convicted of the drug trafficking conspiracy charge, each defendant faces up to 40 years in prison and a potential fine of $5,000,000.

The 12 defendants charged are Crecencio Ortiz-Castillo, 21, of McRae; Mauricio Lepe-Cholico, 36, of Baxley; John Register, 38, of Alma; Westley Kennedy, 27, of Alma; Recardo Harris, 35, of Nicholls; Markeish Wilkins, 27, of Alma; Jeremy Peterson, 26, of Alma; Ottie Corbitt, 28, of Douglas; Johnny Drake, 36, of Baxley; Nathan Newham, 34, of Hazlehurst; Irene Kennedy, 54, of Alma, Georgia; and Contory Kennedy, 22, of Alma.

The defendants were arraigned last week in federal court in Brunswick, where they all entered pleas of not guilty. Of the 12 defendants appearing, Irene Kennedy, Contory Kennedy and Wilkins were released on secured bonds, while the other nine defendants were denied bond and ordered detained pending a trial.