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Sylvania man indicted on federal drug trafficking charges

A Sylvania man was one of nine named Friday in a newly unsealed federal indictment for taking part in a major drug trafficking conspiracy that funneled cocaine and other drugs from Atlanta to the Waynesboro area.

The indictment in USA v. Rhaney et al, dubbed Operation Washout, represents a significant, coordinated attack on narcotics distribution in Screven, Burke, Richmond and McDuffie counties and other parts of the Southern District, said David H. Estes, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

According to a release from the Southern District, the primary charge in the indictment, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine and Marijuana, carries a statutory penalty upon conviction of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with substantial financial penalties, followed by a period of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Close collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement partners has yielded tremendous success in identifying and shutting down these operations that funnel poison into our communities,” Estes said. “We will continue to relentlessly pursue and hold accountable those who would endanger our citizens through drug trafficking and its related pathologies.”

Trevor Watson, 30, of Sylvania, is charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Marijuana; Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Crack Cocaine; Possession of a Firearm by an Illegal Drug User; and two counts of Unlawful Use of Communication Facility.

Others facing similar charges include four men from Waynesboro, two from Augusta, one from Atlanta and a woman from Covington. All defendants are in custody and awaiting hearings.

Operation Washout was coordinated through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces as the Augusta Office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration developed information about cocaine trafficking from Mexico, through California to Atlanta, and then primarily to distributors in Burke County. Investigators from the Burke County Sheriff’s Office then worked with the DEA to develop the investigation that identified the defendants and led to searches and subsequent seizures of cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, drug trafficking paraphernalia, cash, and more than two dozen firearms.

“The success of this 18-month investigation is an outstanding example of the partnership of our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working together to protect our community from illegal drugs, illegally possessed firearms, and the violent crime that accompanies them,” said Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams. “The citizens of Burke County greatly appreciate the resources and assistance from our federal partners, including the DEA, in keeping our neighborhoods safe.”

Agencies investigating Operation Washout include the DEA and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Probation Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Georgia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, the Screven County Sheriff’s Office, the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.



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