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More Sentences In ‘Operation Sandy Bottom’

A series of sentencings and the guilty plea of a key defendant brings to 36 the number of defendants admitting guilt in Operation Sandy Bottom, the investigation and prosecution of violent criminal street gang members distributing methamphetamine and other drugs in the Coffee County area.
Of the 48 defendants indicted in the operation in U.S.A. v. McMillan et al. in January, 2021, just nine await trial and are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty; 14 have been sentenced to federal prison terms of up to 286 months, while 22 others have pled guilty to felony charges and await sentencing. Charges against one defendant were dismissed.
“The continued delivery of justice in Operation Sandy Bottom demonstrates the commitment our office brings to the identification and disruption of criminal street gangs who sell misery and sow fear in our communities,” said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “Our many local, state, and federal law enforcement partners exhibited exceptional performance in bringing this drug trafficking operation to a halt.”
Operation Sandy Bottom was an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation centered in the Sand Ridge neighborhood on the east side of Douglas in an area known as “the bottoms.” The 57-count indictment alleges that the conspiracy, controlled by a subset of the Gangster Disciples street gang, used guns, violence and fear to control methamphetamine trafficking operations throughout the community and to enable contraband distribution inside Georgia prisons.
Multiple defendants have been sentenced or admitted guilt in U.S. District Court this week, including:
Jackie Kavaskia McMillan, a/k/a “Bijay,” 41, an inmate serving a life sentence for a state conviction on a charge of murder at Dooly State Prison, awaits sentencing in federal court after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine and a quantity of marijuana. As early as 2018, McMillan used contraband cell phones and compromised prison guards to coordinate the drug trafficking operation while incarcerated. His guilty plea subjects McMillan to a minimum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison, and up to 40 years.
Christina Veronda Alexander, 41, of Hazlehurst, was sentenced to 286 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine and a quantity of marijuana, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Alexander was McMillan’s girlfriend, and under McMillan’s direction obtained methamphetamine from a supplier in Mexico for distribution to street dealers in the conspiracy, and delivered contraband to compromised prison guards to smuggle to state prison inmates.
Richard Young, 55, of Hazlehurst, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Young admitted to participating in methamphetamine distribution as part of the conspiracy.
The investigation began in 2018 when the Coffee County Drug Unit enlisted the assistance of the FBI and the Coastal Georgia Violent Gang Task Force to investigate community complaints about rising violence and drug activity in the Sand Ridge neighborhood of Douglas. As outlined in court documents and testimony, the conspiracy controlled multiple “trap houses” to store and distribute illegal drugs, primarily methamphetamine, coordinated by gang leaders who distributed drugs throughout Coffee, Bacon, Emanuel, Jeff Davis, Pierce and Wheeler counties, along with other parts of Georgia.
Investigators infiltrated the operation, intercepting multiple kilograms of drugs and nearly two dozen illegally possessed firearms, along with seven vehicles and more than $12,000 in cash identified as drug-trafficking proceeds.
The operation also identified and charged three Georgia state correctional officers who worked with gang members to smuggle contraband cell phones and illegal drugs to inmates affiliated with the conspiracy. Idalis Qua Dazia Harrell, 25, of Douglas, a former guard at Coffee County Correctional Facility; Jessica Azaelae Burnett, a/k/a “The Madam,” 42, of Douglas, a former senior guard at Coffee County Correctional Facility; and Ebony Desiree Smiley, a/k/a “Baby Girl, 25, of Vidalia, a former guard at Wheeler State Prison, each await sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine and marijuana.
The case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. It was investigated by the FBI and the FBI Coastal Georgia Safe Streets Violent Gang Task Force; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; Coffee County Sheriff’s Office and Coffee County Drug Unit; Georgia Department of Corrections; Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Office; Pierce County Sheriff’s Office; Bacon County Sheriff’s Office; Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office; Lanier County Sheriff’s Office; Blackshear Police Department; Nicholls Police Department; Douglas Police Department; Alma Police Department; Glynn County Police Department; Brunswick Police Department; Swainsboro Police Department; and Coffee County Department of Family and Children Services.
The cases are being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph McCool and E. Greg Gilluly, with asset forfeitures coordinated by Xavier A. Cunningham, Section Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Recovery Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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