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US Attorney "Toombs Drug Bust"
Wednesday, 12 August 2009

August 12-- Edmund A. Booth, Jr., United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, announced today that thirty-four defendants have been named in two indictments returned  by a Grand Jury sitting in Savannah in connection with a major drug distribution conspiracy in the Statesboro Division of U.S. District Court. (See previous story from August 11).

          Booth said that in one Indictment, thirty defendants, mostly from Toombs County, are charged in twenty-three counts including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (crack), 5 kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride (powder) (both Schedule II controlled substances), 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana, and a quantity of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy)(both Schedule I controlled substances).  Other charges include the possession and distribution of controlled substances and various firearms offenses,  including the illegal possession of firearms by convicted felons and in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes, all of which are in violation of the United States Code. The indictment names LAWRENCE HUGH MCCULLOUGH, JR., a.k.a. “HUGHGY,” LAWRENCE HUGH MCCULLOUGH, SR., a.k.a. “HUGO,” ALEX ASHLEY a.k.a. “BOSS,” KENDALL DEWAYNE CORBETT, and RODGIE LINTAE ELLIS, as the leaders of the drug trafficking organization along with twenty five others. 

            Booth said that the second Indictment names four defendants from the Toombs County area, ALEJANDRO AGUILAR-RAMIREZ a.k.a. Alex, DALLAS FRANKLIN CLARK, LAWRENCE HUGH MCCULLOUGH, SR. a.k.a. Hugo (who is also named in both Indictments), and CHARLIE MARION PHILLIPS, as being members of a related conspiracy  to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 5 kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride (powder) (a Schedule II controlled substance), and 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana (a Schedule I controlled substance). This indictment also includes counts of possessing and distributing controlled substances.

            Booth stated that bench warrants were issued  and 32 defendants have thus far been arrested and made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Statesboro today.

            The case resulted from a lengthy investigation by the United States Department of Justice Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the East Central Georgia  Drug Task Force, the Toombs County Sheriff’s Office, the Vidalia Police Department, the Lyons Police Department, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.  Other agencies assisting in the arrests include the U.S. Marshal’s Southeast Region Fugitive Task Force and the Georgia Department of Corrections. The lead prosecutor representing the United States is Assistant U.S. Attorney Darrin L. McCullough of Savannah. 

            Booth praised the efforts of all the agencies involved and called the investigation “a great example of federal-state law enforcement cooperation.”  He  further noted that “the operations of a major drug trafficking organization have been substantially disrupted by these arrests.”

            If convicted of the charges, the defendants face statutory penalties of up to life imprisonment without parole and millions of dollars in fines. Booth stressed that an indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
 
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