DUBLIN, GA: With a final guilty plea to federal charges entered in U.S. District Court, all charges have been resolved against 30 defendants involved in a Laurens County methamphetamine-trafficking ring indicted just over a year ago.
Robert Anthony Justice, 38, of Chester, Ga., awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Use of Communication Facility, related to using a cell phone to conduct illegal drug trafficking activity, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. With Justice’s plea, 25 of 30 indicted defendants in Operation Monroe Doctrine have pled guilty; four defendants entered Pre-Trial Diversion; and one defendant passed away.
“Operation Monroe Doctrine is a textbook example of a well-coordinated law enforcement operation to identify and shut down a major drug-trafficking conspiracy and alleviate the violent crime it spawned throughout the Dublin area,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “It speaks volumes that every defendant admitted guilt without trial, and all of them are now being held accountable.”
The indictment of 30 defendants in USA v. Monroe et. al, dubbed Operation Monroe Doctrine, was handed down by a U.S. District Court Grand Jury in July 2021. The operation was the culmination of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation that identified a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy throughout Laurens and Telfair counties and beyond, operating from at least January 2020 through January 2021.
As described in court documents and testimony, the defendants coordinated to import and distribute illegal drugs throughout the greater Dublin and Laurens County community. Key sentences in the operation include:
“Prior to the people of Laurens County electing me as sheriff, I promised I would work hard to eliminate the dangerous drug dealers from our community,” said Laurens County Sheriff Larry Dean. “I have and will continue to do so. My deputies will continue to work with other agencies on the local, state and federal level to ensure strong, swift convictions to the ones who choose to peddle dope here. My hat goes off to everyone who had a role in this case, from my staff all the way to the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. I thank you all.”
“The insidious drug methamphetamine destroys families and communities,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “DEA and its law enforcement partners are committed to protect and serve those communities. This investigation was a success because of the collective effort between DEA, and its local, state and federal law enforcement counterparts.”
“There is no initiative more critical to ATF than increasing the safety of our communities. Cases which result in the arrests and prosecution of criminals are fundamental to continuing this initiative while simultaneously shows criminals that ATF and its law enforcement partners will not falter in this mission.” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “We will pursue criminals such as these wherever they may operate, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States, using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.
The case was investigated by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and the Ocmulgee Drug Task Force, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. Harper III, Frank M. Pennington II, and Southern District of Georgia OCDETF Coordinator Marcela C. Mateo.
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