Possible sentences range up to life in prison for drug trafficking, gun possession
A Mexican national and 17 other Statesboro-area residents indicted in a sweeping two-year, multi-agency investigation have pled guilty to a multitude of charges, and now face sentences of up to life in prison.
The joint federal, state and local investigation began in 2015 after citizens complained about drug-trafficking and violent crime in Screven County, Ga., and soon uncovered a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and marijuana in Screven, Effingham, Jenkins, Bulloch and Evans counties, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Of the original 20 defendants indicted in September 2018, 18 have signed guilty pleas, one is pending an evaluation, and charges against another have been dismissed.
The lead defendant in the case, Natividad Dias, 38, also known as “Nat,” “Nate,” “Amigo” or “Huevos,” pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He faces up to life in federal prison.
Others signing guilty pleas to similar charges in the case include:
John Timothy Collins, 48
John Kenneth Joyner, 47
Palmer Alton Bazemore II, 51
Cassie Jo Barbee, 36
Jaime Elton Newsome, 39
Megan Nicole Bazemore, 30
Christina Elizabeth Davis, 32
Derrick Riggs, 42
Gary Paul Joyner, 51
Monica Isabell Jimenez, 22
Zackary Allen Durrence, 26
John Dillon Joyner, 25
Jonathan Travis Oliver, 36
Michael Shane Bishop, 44
Jonathon Evan Oglesby, 27
Alfred Anthony Woods, 28
Noah Quinn Pope, 25
Agreements from Oliver and Bishop also include admitting illegal possession of firearms that were seized during the investigation. The defendants face sentences of up to life in prison, and there is no parole in the federal system. Sentencing hearings have not yet been scheduled.
“These guilty pleas are a direct result of the dedicated efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said DEA Atlanta Division Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Murphy. “The distribution of methamphetamine continues to ravage many communities. The Statesboro-area communities are much safer because these drug traffickers have been removed from the streets.”
“Securing admissions of guilt from all of the defendants in this operation represents an incredible, exhaustive level of investigative work from all of the partner agencies,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “The obvious payoff is that a significant number of criminals are off the streets and no longer peddling poison in our communities.”
“Homeland Security Investigations works diligently with our federal, state and local partners to prevent dangerous drugs and drug violence from plaguing our communities,” said Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan. “This joint investigation is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies pool their resources and expertise to attack and dismantle criminal organizations engaged in illicit activities that pose a significant threat to public safety.”
This case is being prosecuted as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces program, the premier law enforcement unit whose task is to dismantle multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking organizations.
The investigation was a joint operation of federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Participating state agencies included the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. Local law enforcement included the Screven County Sheriff’s Office, Sylvania Police Department, Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, Jenkins County Sheriff’s Office, Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, Evans County Sheriff’s Office; and the Claxton Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Marcela C. Mateo is prosecuting the case for the United States.
This investigation took place under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program that has been successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer.