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Ten Charged in Augusta-Area Drug Trafficking Operation, ‘Operation Wheat Fields’

Ten people have been indicted in an Augusta-area drug trafficking conspiracy linked to another large-scale drug trafficking prosecution.

As described in the newly unsealed indictment in USA v. Fields et. al, the investigation parallels the indictments in USA v. Wheatley et. al, together dubbed Operation Wheat Fields, and describes a conspiracy to transport and distribute large amounts of methamphetamine and heroin in the areas of Richmond and Emanuel counties in Georgia, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Each defendants faces a conspiracy charge that carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to life in prison, and there is no parole in the federal system.

“Illegal drug trafficking operations generate misery in our communities and produce significant illicit funds and generate rivalries that fuel violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “By closely collaborating with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to identify, disrupt and dismantle these organizations and make our citizens safer.”

Operation Wheat Fields is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces investigation that identified a pipeline of illegal drugs from Mexico routed through Atlanta and into the greater Augusta area, facilitated by defendants that included those housed in Georgia prisons who used contraband devices to communicate via text message and Facebook. The investigation led to multiple searches and evidence seizures from residences, vehicles, and hotel rooms.

Those charged in the October 2022 indictment in USA v. Fields, et. al, include:

  • Justin Wayne Fields, 39, of Swainsboro, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; three counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine; and 11 counts of Use of Communication Facility, related to the use of a cell phone or Facebook Messenger to facilitate the conspiracy;
  • Joshua Brooks Woodward, a/k/a “Jay Wood,” 30, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; and five counts of Use of a Communication Facility;
  • Elizabeth Sarah Hagan, 38, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; Possession of Methamphetamine; and four counts of Use of a Communication Facility;
  • Coley Alexander Greene, a/k/a “Henry Jones,” 30, of Wrens, Ga., charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; and three counts of Use of a Communication Facility;
  • James Edmund Beasley, 34, of Grovetown, Ga., charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin; and three counts of Use of a Communication Facility;
  • Cameron Ruth Young, 35, of Grovetown, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin; and Use of a Communication Facility;
  • David Marshall Hood, 45, of Kite, Ga., charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; two counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine; Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine; and Use of a Communication Facility;
  • James Richard Faircloth, 39, of Swainsboro, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; five counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine; Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine; and three counts of Use of a Communication Facility;
  • Leann Nicole Faircloth, 39, of Swainsboro, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; and three counts of Distribution of Heroin; and,
  • Casey Alton Henry, 45, of Swainsboro, charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 500 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine and an Amount of Heroin; two counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine; and Use of a Communication Facility.

All of the defendants charged in the indictment have appeared before a magistrate in U.S. District Court.

Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

In the related prosecution in USA v. Wheatley et al., lead defendant Jayson Dwayne Wheatley, 41, of Augusta, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty Sept. 23 to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, 50 Grams or More of a Mixture Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine. Two other defendants also await sentencing after pleading guilty to related charges, and the remaining four defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.

This investigation took place under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer.

Operation Wheat Fields is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; the Swainsboro Police Department; the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office; the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and is being prosecuted for the United States by Southern District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorney and Criminal Division Chief Patricia G. Rhodes.

 

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