ALBANY, Ga. (CW44 News At 10)– Multiple co-defendants involved in a high-volume drug trafficking operation located in a southwest Georgia city were sentenced to federal prison for their crimes this week.
On Thursday, August 19, James Malone, 51, of Albany, was sentenced to serve 240 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine. The following co-defendants were sentenced to prison this week:READ MORE: Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Received Funding For A High Visibility Enforcement Initiative
Laura Ann Dungee-Ali, 49, of Albany, as sentenced to serve 180 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release after she pleaded guilty to maintaining a drug-involved premises;
William Raymond Cook, 46, of Albany, was sentenced to serve 151 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone;
Shannon Marie Mason, 39, of Leesburg, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 75 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release after she pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine;
Anthony Dewayne Pearson, 42, of Sylvester, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute hydrocodone; and,
Patricia Odom, 50, of Albany, was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Sherrod Winchester, 39, of Albany, is scheduled for sentencing the week of September 13, after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute controlled substances.READ MORE: Polk County School Cafeteria Worker Arrested for Murdering Boyfriend
U.S. District Judge Leslie Gardner is presiding over this case.
“In the light of day, these defendants operated a quick-serve market for some of the deadliest illegal drugs available. Malone and Winchester directed this operation with a shocking brazenness, causing grave harm to drug users and damaging a neighborhood,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Investigators with the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit, GBI, DEA and FBI successfully stopped a pit-stop of poison from continuing to destroy lives and a community.”
“DEA eradicated a methamphetamine distribution network that pushed poison throughout the Albany community. DEA and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting these communities,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Robert J. Murphy. “Today is not only a victory for law enforcement, but also for the Albany community that was directly impacted by this organization. Everyone can sleep better at night now knowing that these defendants have been sentenced.”
“These defendants were so brazen they barely tried to hide their stop and shop operation that perpetuated crime throughout the community,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Through our strong partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, we were able close down their business and make sure they could cause no more harm to the citizens of the communities they plagued.”
“This investigation illustrates that drug trafficking at any level will not be tolerated in the state of Georgia. It is paramount that violators of drug laws be held accountable. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is fully committed to working with our local and federal partners in drug enforcement to address these types of crimes,” said GBI Director Vic Reynolds.
“Here is another example of how we can utilize local, state and federal resources to address the challenges of drug dealing within our community. These persons continued to disregard the quality of life in their neighborhood by breaking laws meant to protect people from hurt, harm and danger. The victims of these crimes need comprehensive substance abuse treatment and a long-term recovery program. More people may look for a profitable return on drug dealing, but we want them to understand the consequences that come with it,” said Albany Police Chief Michael Persley.MORE NEWS: Man Taken Into Custody After Barricading Himself Inside His Home
According to court documents, in 2019, Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit (ADDU) detectives identified defendants Malone and Winchester as significant distributors of methamphetamine and heroin. As a result, GBI, DEA and FBI initiated a joint investigation into the distribution of controlled substances at 520 9th Avenue, Albany, Georgia. The location was an open-air drug market run by Malone and Winchester, dispensing diverted pharmaceutical medications, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and other controlled substances. On a daily basis, the location maintained a large volume of foot and vehicle traffic, approximately twenty cars or more, with the visits lasting no more than a few minutes. Customers would approach a covered shelter to acquire illegal drugs, in a manner similar to a drive-thru window at a fast-food restaurant. Confidential sources were recorded making purchases of these illegal drugs from several of the co-defendants. Co-defendant Mason admitted to transporting large quantities of illegal substances at the behest of Winchester. Mason was taken into custody with more than a kilo of cocaine and more than a kilo of crystal methamphetamine in her vehicle. More than $40,000 in drug proceeds were seized from Malone’s residence. The drug house operated almost continuously from 2015 until late 2020 or early 2021.