FOLKSTON, Ga. – A crystal meth ring trafficking millions of dollars worth of a rare, pure form of the drug through Southeast Georgia has been dismantled by a multi-agency sting, dubbed "Operation Energizer."
The 13-month sting earned its name because authorities said the drug ring just kept going and going as the investigation progressed.
Eleven people have been indicted for distributing or selling crystal meth, and four have already pleaded guilty, investigators said.
The four who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute meth were:
- Norman Lloyd, Charlton County
- Kathy Meyer, Charlton County
- Tina Rayos, Nassau County
- Lena Davis, Bacon County
The seven others indicted on the same charge are:
- Layton Thomas, Charlton County
- Melinda Reeves, Duval County
- Michelle Ryder, Nassau County
- Marcelle Jenkins, Bacon County
- Leterell Jenkins, Bacon County
- George Jenkins, Bacon County
- Shanique Morgan, Bacon County
The operation, which began in 2015, found that the main players in the drug ring were located in northern Georgia and Bacon County. A tip led detectives to Charlton County, which the traffickers used as a distribution point to get the drugs to other areas, authorities said.
“Our county was sort of the hub, you might say, of this operation. I think it was done here because of our proximity to the Florida state line, going into Jacksonville,” Charlton County Sheriff Dobie Conner said. “I want to thank everybody for the extra hard work that they put into this. Here in a rural county, it's hard to get on top of these things.”
Investigators said the meth was first going to a gang of four drug dealers in Bacon County, which is north of Charlton. Detectives said the group then took the meth to Charlton county, where it made it’s way across the state line to Florida.
“Actually, they could go across the line and charge a higher price than what they're paying in Bacon County for it, so it was a money thing and a location thing,” said Maj. Randy Crews of the Baker County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators said they found three people in Charlton County that they claim were selling meth to drug users in Jacksonville, Baker County and Nassau County. The drugs were a rare, 100 percent potency type of crystal meth, which authorities said was tied to Mexico.
“Purity level of that magnitude indicates this is not a domestic shake and bake of a one-type method,” said Chad Cook, with the DEA. “This is a Mexican-imported methamphetamine.”
Authorities said more arrests are coming.
“It should put some dent in the local Jacksonville (meth) market, at least for a while,” News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said. “It’s like when they make a major marijuana (bust). Yeah, it slows things down for awhile, but eventually there is another supply coming from someplace else.”
The Baker County, Charlton County and Bacon County sheriff's offices, and the Drug Enforcement Administration in Jacksonville worked together on the sting.