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April 24-- A federal indictment was unsealed earlier this month which charges 12 defendants with conspiring to traffic large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, oxycodone, and other drugs in Appling, Bacon, Coffee, Jeff Davis, Telfair, and Wayne Counties, Georgia. 

The charges resulted from a joint investigation by the DEA, the GBI, the Bacon County Sheriff's Office, the Jeff Davis County Sheriff's Office, the Coffee County Sheriff's Office, the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office, the Ware County Sheriff’s Office, and with assistance from the Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office and the United States Marshal's Service. 

If convicted of the drug trafficking conspiracy charge, each defendant faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and a potential fine of $5,000,000.

 The 12 defendants charged are:

 -  Crecencio Ortiz-Castillo, 21, of McRae, Georgia;

-  Mauricio Lepe-Cholico, 36, of Baxley, Georgia;

-  John Thomas Register, 38, of Alma, Georgia;

-  Westley Kayeon Kennedy, 27, of Alma, Georgia;

-  Recardo Mantabbyon Harris, 35, of Nicholls, Georgia;

-  Markeish Lamaryia Wilkins, 27, of Alma, Georgia;

-  Jeremy Peterson, 26, of Alma, Georgia;

-  Ottie Lafayette Corbitt, 28, of Douglas, Georgia;

-  Johnny Leon Drake, 36, of Baxley, Georgia;

-  Nathan Peter Newham, 34, of Hazlehurst, Georgia;

-  Irene Kennedy, 54, of Alma, Georgia; and

-  Contory Kennedy, 22, of Alma, Georgia. 

The defendants were arraigned last week in federal court in Brunswick where they all entered pleas of not guilty.  Of the 12 defendants appearing, Irene Kennedy, Contory Kennedy, and Markeish Wilkins were released on secured bonds, while the other 9 defendants were denied bond and ordered detained pending a trial.

United States Attorney Edward Tarver emphasized that the indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government=s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.



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