Four Madison County residents are among 68 people charged in a large-scale drug trafficking investigation dubbed “Operation Wu Block,” which yielded the seizure of kilos of methamphetamine and heroin.

Madison County residents charged include Benjamin Bray, 23; Ashley Davis, 26; Bruce Hicks, 39; and Ronald Kelley, 49.

Charlie Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said more indictments are expected in coming months.

The two-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation is being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Macon Resident Office, FBI Middle Georgia Safe Streets Gang Task Force, Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Clarke County Sheriff's Office, Hart County Sheriff’s Office, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Department of Corrections and Northeast Regional Drug Task Force in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.

These agencies continue to target large-scale drug trafficking organizations operating in northeast Georgia and throughout the State of Georgia. The investigation has resulted in the seizure of more than 58 kilograms of methamphetamine, more than two kilograms of heroin, 31 firearms, and $56,000, as well as multiple indictments covering 68 defendants.

“Law enforcement in Georgia are aggressively working to find and arrest individuals distributing dangerous drugs in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Peeler. “This investigation is a textbook example of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies working together in the Middle District of Georgia to stem the flow of illegal narcotics and the severe damage they cause within our communities. Drug traffickers beware: law enforcement will find you, and you will be prosecuted.” Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division, said “Drug traffickers ultimately bring misery and destruction to our communities.”

“DEA and its law enforcement partners take an oath to protect and serve those communities by removing dangerous criminals from the streets,” said Murphy.

Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said the operation is an “aggressive assault against a well-established methamphetamine distribution network.”

“The removal of drugs, guns and money and 68 defendants from our streets will have an immediate impact on the safety of our citizens, thanks to a two-year cooperative effort with our federal, state and local partners,” said Hacker. “This case is another example of the commitment to dismantle organizations that wreak havoc in our communities and endanger the people who live in them.”

Nineteen federal indictments have been returned by federal grand juries with a total of 68 defendants criminally charged in the Middle District of Georgia. Some of the charges include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine with a maximum sentence of life in prison; conspiracy with intent to distribute heroin with a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine or heroin with sentences ranging from a maximum 20 years to life in prison; distribution of methamphetamine or heroin with sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison, depending on the amount of controlled substances charged; possession of a firearm in relation to drug trafficking with a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“Operation Wu Block” is part of the larger “Operation Crystal Shield,” a national DEA operation first announced on Feb. 20, 2020 during a press conference in Atlanta. The investigation is focused on eight main methamphetamine trafficking transportation hubs across the nation, including Atlanta. Both are ongoing operations.

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