6 people convicted in high-volume drug market operation in Albany

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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) – Several people involved in a high-volume drug trafficking operation in Albany have been sentenced to federal prison for their crimes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Georgia.

On Thursday James Malone, 51, of Albany, was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by five years on probation after pleading guilty to distributing methamphetamine.

The following people were also sentenced to prison terms:

  • Laura Ann Dungee-Ali, 49, from Albany, was sentenced to 15 years 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 12 and a half years in prison followed by three years on probation after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone.
  • Shannon Marie Mason, 39, of Leesburg, was sentenced to more than six years in prison, followed by two years on probation after pleading guilty to distributing methamphetamine.
  • Anthony Dewayne Pearson, 42, of Sylvester, was sentenced to five years in prison followed by three years on probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute hydrocodone.
  • Patricia Odom, 50, from Albany, was sentenced to one year in prison followed by three years on probation after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine

Sherrod Winchester, 39, of Albany, is due to be sentenced the week of September 13 after pleading guilty to conspiring to distribute controlled substances.

US District Judge Leslie Gardner is presiding over this case.

Background:

Court documents indicate that in 2019, detectives from the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit (ADDU) identified Malone and Winchester as major distributors of methamphetamine and heroin.

As a result, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), DEA, and FBI have launched a joint investigation into the distribution of controlled substances at 520 9th Avenue. The location was an open-air drug market run by Malone and Winchester, distributing hijacked pharmaceutical drugs, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other controlled substances.

According to daily documents, the location maintained a large volume of foot and car traffic, around 20 cars or more, with visits lasting no more than a few minutes. Customers would approach a covered shelter to procure 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. Mason admitted to taking large amounts of illegal substances at Winchester’s request, according to the US attorney’s office.

Mason was arrested with over a kilo of cocaine and over a kilo of crystal methamphetamine in his vehicle. In addition, over $ 40,000 in drug products was seized from Malone’s residence.

The police believe that the drug house operated almost continuously from 2015 to late 2020 or early 2021.

“In the light of day, these defendants were operating a fast-serving market for some of the deadliest illegal drugs available. Malone and Winchester ran this operation with shocking effrontery, causing serious damage to drug addicts and damaging a neighborhood, ”Acting US Attorney Peter Leary said. “Investigators from the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit, GBI, DEA and FBI were successful in preventing a poison pit stop from continuing to destroy lives and a community.”

“The DEA has eradicated a methamphetamine distribution network that has spread the poison throughout the community of Albany. The DEA and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting these communities, ”said special agent in charge of the DEA’s field division in Atlanta, Robert Murphy. “Today, it is not only a victory for the police, but also for the community of Albany which has been directly affected by this organization. Everyone can sleep better at night now knowing that these defendants have been convicted. “

“These defendants were so brazen they barely tried to hide their arrest and shopping operation which perpetuated the crime throughout the community,” said Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta. “Through our strong partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, we were able to shut down their businesses and ensure they could no longer harm the citizens of the communities they have tormented.”

“This 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 counter-drug partners to combat these types of crimes, ”said Vic Reynolds, Director of GBI.

“Here 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, ”said Michael Persley, Albany Police Chief.

Copyright 2021 WALB. All rights reserved.


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