The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia announced the final sentence in its Operation Stranded Bandit which saw 34 defendants sentenced to up to 292 months for involvement in meth trafficking from Mexico to Savannah through Atlanta.
“Our law enforcement partners built Operation Stranded Bandit on the foundation of prior investigations dismantling a network of drug traffickers operating inside and outside prisons to bring large quantities of methamphetamine to coastal Georgia,” U.S. Attorney David Estes said in a Thursday press release. “Getting gun-carrying drug traffickers off our streets, particularly those with gang affiliations, is a vital part of protecting our communities from violent crime.”
The Thursday announcement highlighted the sentencing of Kristin Sheppard to 111 months in prison and five years of supervised release, Michael Sharpe’s sentencing to 210 months and three years of supervised release, and William Hamilton to 126 months with five years of supervised release.
“Sheppard and Sharpe admitted to serving as a methamphetamine couriers and dealers, while Hamilton served as an armed bodyguard for other drug couriers. All three defendants have multiple prior felony convictions involving drugs,” the release states.
The operation grew out of other gang-related drug trafficking prosecutions: Operation Vanilla Gorilla and Operation Who’s Laughing Now. The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces coordinated the investigations, which found involvement from criminal gangs like the Ghost Face Gangsters and collaboration from inside prisons to distribute drugs in coastal Georgia.
“Illegal drugs and criminal street gangs have no place in Georgia,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Mike Register. “These defendants were part of a criminal enterprise that has been threatening the safety of communities for years. We will continue to work diligently along with our local and federal partners to investigate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations and criminal street gangs.”
The announcement comes after Estes’ office announced the resolution of another drug trafficking investigation, Operation Sandy Bottom, in November 2022. The same month, the office announced Operation Carpet Ride after the unsealing of federal indictments with charges for 32 defendants accused of drug trafficking; Estes hasn’t announced any convictions in the operation yet.
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