ALBANY, Georgia – The leader of a high-volume illegal drug trafficking operation in a town in southwest Georgia has been sentenced to federal prison.
Sherrod Winchester, 39, of Albany, was sentenced to 300 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release on Wednesday, October 20 by U.S. District Judge Leslie Gardner after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute substances controlled. There is no parole in the federal system.
âSherrod Winchester’s conviction ends a lengthy investigation into a stop and store serving dozens of drug addicts daily who could easily access methamphetamine, heroin and hijacked pharmaceuticals. The prolific Winchester operation caused damage to the entire community, âActing US Attorney Peter D. Leary said. “Federal, state and local investigators have succeeded in holding Winchester and its co-defendants accountable for their brazen crimes and prevented further damage to a neighborhood, users and their families.”
“Because of the results of this case, communities in southwest Georgia will be much safer,” said Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta. “Winchester’s long sentence serves as an example for the FBI and our law enforcement partners in a commitment to end the opioid crisis and to severely punish anyone who contributes to it.”
“Drug traffickers are a threat to society, which is true of a prolific multi-drug trafficker like Mr. Winchester,” said Robert J. Murphy, special agent for the DEA Atlanta field division. âHe tried to evade justice, but due to the persistence and tenacity of all law enforcement agencies involved, he was ultimately apprehended. He and his co-defendants will now spend a well-deserved sentence in prison. “
âThis investigation shows that drug trafficking at any level will not be tolerated in the state of Georgia. It is essential that violators of drug laws are held accountable. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is fully committed to working with our local and federal drug control partners to combat these types of crimes, âsaid GBI Director Vic Reynolds.
âThis is another example of how we can use local, state and federal resources to address the challenges of drug trafficking in our community. These people continued to ignore the quality of life in their neighborhood by breaking laws designed to protect people from injury, harm and danger. Victims of these crimes need comprehensive drug treatment and a long-term recovery program. More and more people are looking for a profitable return on drug trafficking, but we want them to understand the consequences, âsaid Albany Police Chief Michael Persley.
The following co-defendants were convicted:
James Malone, 51, from Albany, was sentenced to 240 months in prison followed by five years on probation after pleading guilty to distributing methamphetamine;
Laura Ann Dungee-Ali, 49, from Albany, was sentenced to 180 months in prison, followed by two years on probation after pleading guilty to maintaining drug-related premises;
William Raymond Cook, 46, of Albany, was sentenced to 151 months in prison, followed by three years on probation after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone;
Shannon Marie Mason, 39, of Leesburg, Georgia, was sentenced to 75 months in prison followed by two years on probation after pleading guilty to distributing methamphetamine;
Anthony Dewayne Pearson, 42, of Sylvester, Ga., Was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute hydrocodone; and,
Patricia Odom, 50, from Albany, was sentenced to 12 months in prison followed by three years on probation after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
According to court documents, in 2019, detectives from the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit (ADDU) identified defendants Malone and Winchester as major distributors of methamphetamine and heroin. As a result, GBI, DEA and FBI have launched a joint investigation into the distribution of controlled substances to 520 9e Avenue, Albany, Georgia. The location was an open-air drug market run by Malone and Winchester, distributing hijacked pharmaceutical drugs, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other controlled substances. Daily, the site maintained a significant pedestrian and automobile traffic, about twenty cars or more, the visits not exceeding a few minutes. Customers would approach a covered shelter to acquire illegal drugs, in a manner similar to a drive-thru window at a fast food restaurant. Confidential sources have been recorded purchasing these illegal drugs from several of the co-accused. Co-accused Mason admitted to transporting large amounts of illegal substances at Winchester’s request. Mason was arrested with over a kilo of cocaine and over a kilo of crystal methamphetamine in her vehicle. More than $ 40,000 in drug products were seized from Malone’s residence. The drug house operated almost continuously from 2015 until late 2020 or early 2021.
The case was investigated by the FBI, DEA, GBI and the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah McEwen continued the case.