AUGUSTA, GA: The last of the 21 defendants in Wilkes County, Ga. county in a drug-trafficking conspiracy, have now entered guilty pleas, ending the prosecution of a crime ring that distributed methamphetamine and other drugs in southern Georgia.
Timothy Derrick Petz, a/k/a “TP,” 54, of Duluth, Ga., is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, said David H. Estes, U.S.C. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Petus’ plea is the final indictment of 21 defendants in July 2021. United States v. Winn et al., dubbed Operation Wynner Storm.
“The Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office’s teamwork with other local, state and federal agencies identified and dismantled a violent criminal organization that distributed dangerous narcotics throughout the northern, mostly rural part of southern Georgia,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Our communities are safer when these gun-toting methoplast dealers are off the streets.”
Operation Wynner Storm, initiated by the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force and coordinated through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), targeted gang-related drug trafficking in Wilkes, Lincoln and McDuffie counties north of Augusta. resulted in a 51-count federal indictment. Another 18 defendants were prosecuted on related state charges.
The two-year investigation began in September 2019 with information that the conspirators, led by Exjaben Demontas Hardmana/k/a “Zay,” 43, Washington, Ga. Calvin Terrill Wynn, a/k/a “Swang Lo,” a/k/a “Lo,” 34, Washington, D.C., and others distributed large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs throughout the greater Wilkes County area through a network of street dealers. After months of investigation and controlled buys, agents conducted nearly 20 court-authorized searches and seized methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, cash and illegally possessed firearms.
Hardman is serving 135 months in prison and Winn is serving 66 months after pleading guilty to one count each of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine. Other defendants are serving sentences of up to 78 months on similar charges, while Pettus and five other defendants await sentencing.
“Citizens in the communities affected by these defendants’ drug and gun trafficking are safer now that they are off the streets,” said Atlanta FBI Special Agent in Charge Carrie Farley. “As this comprehensive investigation draws to a close, the FBI’s work is not done. We will continue to work with our partners to investigate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations here in Georgia.
“This case demonstrates our commitment to preventing drug violence and criminal activity from poisoning our communities,” said Bo Kolodka, assistant special agent in charge of the Atlanta field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “It also sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and punish the leaders and members of these violent drug enterprises.”
The case was investigated by the Organized Crime Drug Task Force. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles top-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States through a prosecutor-led, intelligence-led, multi-agency approach.
Agencies investigating the case include the FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the US Marshals Service and the US Probation Office; Georgia Bureau of Investigation; Georgia Department of Community Supervision; Georgia State Patrol; Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office; Taliaferro County Sheriff’s Office; McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office; Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted in the United States by Assistant US Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division, Patricia G. Rodas.