Last Defendant in Augusta-Area Drug Conspiracy Sentenced to Federal Prison

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The last defendant in an Augusta-area drug trafficking conspiracy, Justin Wayne Fields, 40, of Swainsboro, Ga., has been sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison. Fields pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, Methamphetamine and Heroin. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall sentenced Fields to 168 months in prison and fined him $2,500. Fields must also serve three years of supervised release upon completing his prison term.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Wheat Fields, targeted a conspiracy to transport and distribute large amounts of methamphetamine and heroin in Richmond and Emanuel counties. It uncovered a drug pipeline from Mexico through Atlanta to the Augusta area, facilitated by defendants, including those in Georgia prisons using contraband devices to communicate. The investigation resulted in multiple searches, leading to seizures of illegal drugs and firearms.

Fields’ nine co-defendants, along with seven defendants in a related indictment, all pleaded guilty to federal charges. Sixteen of the 17 defendants have been sentenced to terms of up to 240 months in federal prison for their roles in the conspiracies.

Law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution emphasized their commitment to combating drug trafficking. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Beau Kolodka of the Atlanta Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) emphasized that egregious violations of laws will not go unpunished. Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Atlanta Division, highlighted the serious risks posed by those who distribute drugs like methamphetamine and heroin. Chris Hosey, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), emphasized that illegal drugs have no place in the state, pledging to continue efforts to remove them from communities and keep them safe.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation and involved several law enforcement agencies, including the Swainsboro Police Department, ATF, GBI, and DEA, among others. Southern District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia G. Rhodes is prosecuting the case.