Two key defendants in middle Georgia drug trafficking conspiracy sentenced to federal prison
Operation ‘Ace in the Hole’ targeted major drug distributors
STATESBORO, GA (STL.News) Two Vidalia, Ga., men who played key roles in an expansive, gang-related drug trafficking ring in middle Georgia each have been sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison.
Justin Adams, a/k/a “Ace,” 40, of Vidalia, and Andre Jackson, a/k/a “Dre,” 31, of Vidalia, were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker, said Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes. Adams was sentenced to 165 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, while Jackson was sentenced to 188 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
Adams, a regional leader in the Gangster Disciples criminal street gang, was sentenced as an armed career criminal after pleading guilty to Distribution of Cocaine and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Jackson pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute More Than 5 Grams of Methamphetamine, and Quantities of Marijuana and Cocaine.
“These sentences represent significant milestones in the prosecution of Operation Ace in the Hole, a multi-agency investigation disrupting a major source of illegal drugs and guns in the greater Toombs County area,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “The community is much safer with these defendants behind bars.”
Operation Ace in the Hole, whose name was derived from Adams’ alias, was an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation initiated in August 2018 in response to increasing levels of gang violence and drug-related activities in the Vidalia area. Investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), working with federal and local law enforcement agencies, identified Deltinaud Toussaint, a/k/a “Black,” a/k/a “Tino,” a/k/a “Tino Black,” 44, of Vidalia, as the primary supplier of the organization’s narcotics – including methamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA or “Ecstasy,” and marijuana – through connections in Atlanta.
In June 2019, investigators executed search warrants at eight houses used for stashing or distributing narcotics in Atlanta and Vidalia, seizing more than two kilos of cocaine, four kilos of marijuana, half a kilo of methamphetamine, more than two kilos of MDMA, pints of Codeine, 600 grams of Xanax, pill presses, and surveillance equipment. The drugs were hidden in such items as children’s backpacks and baby-formula bottles. Investigators also seized 20 firearms, including a fully automatic machine gun and several assault-style rifles, a trove of gang-related documents, and nearly $50,000 in cash.
The investigation culminated in a sealed, 61-count federal indictment returned in January 2020 with 26 defendants charged.
Including Adams, Jackson, and Toussaint, 22 of the 26 defendants have entered guilty pleas; 12 of them have been sentenced, with terms of up to 141 months in prison. Toussaint is among seven defendants awaiting sentencing, while three defendants are awaiting trial. One defendant, Torey Johnny Lee Washington, a/k/a “Fool,” 40, of Vidalia, is a fugitive.
“Illegal guns and drugs have no place in Georgia. They are dangerous and threaten the safety of our communities,” said Vic Reynolds, Director of the GBI. “We will continue to work diligently along with our local and federal partners to investigate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.”
“These sentences reinforce our strong commitment to dismantle gangs that plague our communities with drugs, guns and violence, and threaten the safety of the citizens who live in them,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Toombs County residents can take comfort in these two sentences, and many more to follow, that will keep this predatory gang off their streets.”
“These violent, gang-related drug dealers can no longer peddle poison in Vidalia, Ga., and the surrounding community,” said Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Atlanta Field Division. “These dangerous drugs cause immeasurable damage to communities, but DEA and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting these communities. Both defendants will serve well-deserved time in prison.”
‘This case is the product of a concerted collaborative effort on the part of ATF and its local partners to target, investigate, and eliminate the perpetrators of violent crime,” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The OCDETF case was investigated by the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the GBI, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, the Toombs County Sheriff’s Office, the Lyons Police Department, the Oconee Drug Task Force, and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, and is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph McCool. And E. Greg Gilluly Jr.