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Statesboro-area probe nets 20 arrests for drug distribution, weapons possession

STATESBORO -- A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday charged a Mexican national and 19 other Statesboro-area residents with multiple felonies, including drug distribution, illegal firearms possession and related offenses resulting from a more than two-year joint operation of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.


Natividad Dias, 38, also known as “Nat,” “Nate,” “Amigo” or “Huevos,” is among 20 individuals charged with multiple counts of trafficking in methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana. Others also are charged with possession of firearms by convicted felons.


The multi-agency investigation began in 2015 as a result of citizen complaints about drug-trafficking activities and violent crime in Screven County and surrounding communities, including an unsolved homicide case. In 2016, the Screven County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Governor’s Taskforce/Drug Suppression, seized more than 500 marijuana plants from a residence in Screven County relating to the charged conspiracy. As the investigation expanded, it revealed the trafficking of methamphetamine and marijuana in Screven, Effingham, Jenkins, Bulloch and Evans counties. Law enforcement agencies participating in the operation conducted various controlled purchases, state search warrants and traffic stops. In addition to the marijuana plants, the agencies seized methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs, along with multiple firearms.


Federal prosecutors used the information compiled during the investigation to secure an indictment under seal for the 20 defendants. Most of the defendants in the case are in custody and some have made their initial appearances in federal court, while one of the defendants remains a fugitive. The indictment was unsealed today.


The federal charges and maximum penalties include:

•         Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Controlled Substances, 21 U.S.C. § 846, which carries a sentence of 10 years imprisonment to life, along with fines of up to $10 million.


•         Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (100 or more marijuana plants regardless of weight), 21 U.S.C. § 842(a) and (b)(1)(B), with sentences ranging from five to 40 years imprisonment and fines of up to $5 million.


•         Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (5 grams or more of Methamphetamine, 50 grams or more of a mixture of Methamphetamine, 500 grams of a mixture of Cocaine), 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B), which carries a sentence of five to 40 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5 million.


•         Distribution of Controlled Substances, and Possession of Controlled Substances with Intent to Distribute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), which typically carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, but may carry increased minimum and maximum terms of imprisonment based on the quantity of controlled substances involved and the prior drug convictions of the defendant. 


•         Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which carries a minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, and up to a life imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence imposed.


•         Felon in Possession of Firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), which typically carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.  However, if a defendant has three prior convictions for violent crimes or serious drug offenses, then the sentence ranges from a minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment to a maximum of life imprisonment.


Those charged in the investigation are:

Natividad Dias, 38

John Timothy Collins, 48

John Kenneth Joyner, 47

Palmer Alton Bazemore II, 51

Cassie Jo Barbee, 36

Jaime Elton Newsome, 39

Megan Nicole Bazemore, 30

Christina Elizabeth Davis, 32

Derrick Riggs, 42

Quinn Cullen Neal, 32

Dylan Anthony Davis, 26

Gary Paul Joyner, 51

Monica Isabell Jimenez, 22

Zackary Allen Durrence, 26

John Dillon Joyner, 25

Jonathan Travis Oliver, 36

Michael Shane Bishop, 44

Jonathon Evan Oglesby, 27

Alfred Anthony Woods, 28

Noah Quinn Pope, 25


This indictment arose from a joint operation of federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Participating state agencies included the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. Local law enforcement included the Screven County Sheriff’s Office, Sylvania Police Department, Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, Jenkins County Sheriff’s Office, Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, Evans County Sheriff’s Office; and the Claxton Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Marcela C. Mateo is prosecuting the case for the United States.


This investigation took place under the umbrella of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority, with the reinvigorated PSN as the centerpiece of crime reduction strategies developed by all U.S. Attorney’s Offices.


“This multi-jurisdiction operation represents a significant step toward making our communities safer by removing violent criminals from the streets,” said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “We are committed to working with law-abiding citizens to help break the cycle of criminal activity that feeds so much of the insecurity and despair in many of our neighborhoods, and that begins with getting these serial felons off the streets.”


“This criminal network posed a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the citizens in the Statesboro, Georgia area. Statesboro is a thriving college town and DEA and its law enforcement partners will see to it that this community is a safe haven for our children to obtain a higher education there,” said Robert J. Murphy, the special agent in charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “The removal of these drug traffickers from this town automatically makes this community a safer place. These arrests area a perfect example of the success that can be achieved through multilevel law enforcement cooperation and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”


Screven County Sheriff Mike Kile added, “This multi-agency joint investigation was initiated following the large volume of citizen complaints about illegal drug activity in Screven County and surrounding area and the unsolved murder of Lisa Scott and unknown location of missing person Travis Tankersley. Anyone with information regarding these incidents are asked to contact the Screven County Sheriff’s Office or Georgia Bureau of Investigation at 912-871-1121.”


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.


For any questions,  contact Barry Paschal at (912) 652-4422.