Created: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 01:30:00 EST
Updated: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 02:08:43 EST
Forty-five people have been arrested in a sweeping investigation of methamphetamine trafficking across 12 counties in middle Georgia and up to Atlanta, the Jones County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday.
The investigation started in June when sheriff's deputies for Jones, Putnam and Baldwin counties started looking at meth distribution across the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit. That investigation quickly expanded to Wilkinson, Washington and Spalding counties.
According to the Jones Sheriff's Office, people from Jones, Baldwin and Washington counties were found traveling to Griffin and the metro Atlanta area to obtain meth and then returning to middle Georgia to sell it.
As the investigation continued, it expanded to include Jasper, Bibb, Butts, Monroe, Clayton and Cobb counties. Sheriff's offices in those counties assisted in the investigation.
Drug dealers would obtain as much as seven to eight ounces of meth in a single trip to metro Atlanta and would often make many trips each week.
Investigators conducted surveillance of many of these trips, including a 300-mile round-trip from Washington County, through Spalding County, to Cobb County. On that occasion, investigators intercepted the drug dealers and seized a quarter pound of meth in Washington County.
In another instance, investigators watched a drug deal in metro Atlanta and followed the dealers into Butts County, where they were arrested and more than an ounce of meth was seized, along with cell phones and contraband intended to be smuggled into a prison facility.
The probe also led to the discovery of cell phones inside two Georgia prisons, used by an inmate to arrange drug transactions while he was incarcerated.
On Oct. 22, search warrants were executed in Jones, Baldwin, Putnam, Wilkinson, Washington and Spalding counties, resulting in the seizure of several ounces of meth, firearms, cash, vehicles and other evidence related to the drug distribution organization.
As of Wednesday, 45 people have been arrested on charges of violating the Georgia racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO) act.
Those arrested have a cumulative total of more than 350 prior arrests on a variety of charges. And a number of those arrested were on probation or parole at the time of their arrest.
The Jones County Sheriff's Office said the investigation is continuing and additional arrests are expected.