Four key defendants in a Washington, Ga., area drug trafficking conspiracy have been sentenced to federal prison, with just two of the 21 indicted defendants awaiting trail while others are serving prison terms or awaiting sentencing.
Exjaben Demontaz Hardman, a/k/a “Zay,” 43, of Washington, Ga., was sentenced to 135 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and fined $2,500 after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, Methamphetamine, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall also sentenced Calvin Terrill Wynn, a/k/a “Swang Lo,” a/k/a “Lo,” 34, of Washington, to 66 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $2,000 fine; Demetrius Antonio Perkins, a/k/a “Dee,” 40, of Washington, Ga., to 63 months in prison and a $2,000 fine; and Sherman Redzuees Blackmon, a/k/a “Shorty P,” 43, of Washington, to 47 months in prison. All three pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, Methamphetamine.
There is no parole in the federal system.
“Like far too many rural communities, the Wilkes County area has faced the challenge of gang-led drug trafficking operations and the violent crime generated by those illegal activities,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “With exceptional work from our law enforcement partners, we continue to identify and dismantle these threats to the safety and security of our law-abiding citizens.”
The 50-count federal indictment in USA v. Hardman, et. al in July 2021 was the culmination of a more than two-year investigation initiated by the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, and coordinated through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). Dubbed Operation Wynner Storm, the investigation targeted gang-related drug trafficking in the Wilkes, Lincoln and McDuffie County areas north of Augusta. After months of investigation and controlled purchases, agents conducted nearly 20 court-authorized searches and seized methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, drug sales paraphernalia, cash and firearms.
Eight defendants have now been sentenced after pleading guilty, and 11 other defendants await sentencing after pleading guilty. Two defendants are awaiting trial and are considered innocent unless and until being found guilty in court.
“These Georgia communities are safer today because of the removal of the drugs and this gang-led criminal network from our streets,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI Safe Streets Task Force will continue to use all available investigative resources to identify dealers, whether they attempt to hide in big cities or rural areas, to hold them accountable under the law.”
“ATF will continue to dedicate federal resources in conjunction with those crucial law enforcement contributions of local agencies to the pursuit of eradicating and forestalling criminal gang activity,” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“These sentences are the result of successful collaborative efforts between state, local, and federal agencies,” said Vic Reynolds, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “We will continue to work with our partners to investigate gang activity and drug trafficking. It is a priority that we take illegal drugs and guns off our streets to keep our communities safe.”
The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.
Agencies investigating the case include the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Probation Office; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; the Georgia Department of Community Supervision; the Georgia State Patrol; the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office; the Taliaferro County Sheriff’s Office; the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office; the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia G. Rhodes and Jerimiah L. Johnson.