Thirty-five people face federal charges in connection with the dismantling of what prosecutors say is a large-scale drug organization based in Macon.
During “Operation Southern Postal Powder,” authorities seized cocaine and marijuana, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.
The group, which includes more than a dozen people with Macon ties, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.
Charges in the indictment include conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute, conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute and money laundering conspiracy.
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Many members of the group are accused of knowingly possessing more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and more than five kilograms of cocaine between Jan. 1, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2014, according to the indictment.
About two dozen of the 35 are charged with participating in a money-laundering conspiracy. Five are accused of possessing cocaine or marijuana with the intent to distribute, according to the indictment.
Neither the news release nor the indictment explains the link to the postal service aside from the Postal Inspection Service’s involvement in the investigation and a comment from Assistant Inspector in Charge Barney D. Morris. He said the service “is committed to preventing the U.S. Mail from being used as a conduit for narcotic trafficking.”
The indictment was filed under seal this month and was unsealed Tuesday, according to court records.
Penalties in the case could range from 10 years to life in prison and could include fines up to $10 million, according to the release.
Eighteen of the defendants have Macon addresses. Several are listed as living in Griffin, Conyers, Convington and Atlanta. Other defendants hail from Phoenix, Oklahoma City and California.
Two of the Maconites charged -- 33-year-old Thaddeus “Stupid” Lavette Bonds and 35-year-old Donnie “Big Donnie” William Brown -- were arrested along with a third man by Bibb County Sheriff’s Office drug investigators on allegations that they shipped 80 pounds of marijuana via UPS from Phoenix to different addresses in Middle Georgia in 2009. Investigators intercepted the packages before they were delivered.
The marijuana had an estimated street value of between $100,000 and $150,000.
Court records don’t show that the case was prosecuted.
Bonds was on probation for an aggravated assault in Bibb County at the time of his arrest.
A petition to revoke his probation alleges he was charged with driving under the influence in Phoenix in 2009.
Bonds has been held in Georgia Department of Corrections custody since December 2014 on a sentence stemming from his aggravated assault case, according to prison records.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.