For Immediate Release
Final Defendant Sentenced in Prosecution of Middle Georgia Methamphetamine-Trafficking Conspiracy
Operation Monroe Doctrine Dismantled Major Drug Trafficking Ring
DUBLIN, GA: The final defendant from a Laurens County methamphetamine trafficking ring has been sentenced to prison, wrapping up an operation that dismantled a major middle Georgia drug conspiracy and took more than 75 illegally possessed firearms off the streets.
Robert Anthony Justice, 40, of Chester, Ga., was sentenced to 21 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to using a cell phone to conduct illegal drug trafficking activity, said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. With Justice’s plea, 25 of 30 indicted defendants in Operation Monroe Doctrine have been sentenced after pleading guilty to felony charges related to the conspiracy, and four defendants entered Pre-Trial Diversion. One defendant passed away during the pendency of the case.
“Whether it’s in big cities or small towns, methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs fuel an addiction crisis that generates crime and misery,” said U.S. Attorney Steinberg. “Operation Monroe Doctrine demonstrates the success of law enforcement agencies working together to protect these communities.”
The July 2021 indictment of 30 defendants in USA v. Monroe et. al, dubbed Operation Monroe Doctrine, was the culmination of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation that identified a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy throughout Laurens and Telfair counties and beyond, operating from at least January 2020 through January 2021.
As described in court documents and testimony, the defendants coordinated to import and distribute illegal drugs throughout the greater Dublin and Laurens County community. Key sentences in the operation include:
- David Alex Monroe, 34, of Dexter, Ga., the leader of the conspiracy, is serving 84 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine. As part of his plea agreement, Monroe forfeited a machine gun, an illegal short-barrel rifle, and two silencers, and abandoned his interest in 54 additional firearms.
- Jorge Hernandez-Pena, 48, of Atlanta, Ga., the conspiracy’s source of supply, is serving 240 months in prison, followed by deportation, after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine.
- Fredi Ramirez-Garcia, 44, of Decatur, Ga., another of the conspiracy’s drug distributors, is serving 120 months in prison, followed by deportation, after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime.
- David Kates, 48, a Jamaican citizen, is serving 108 months in prison, followed by deportation, after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine.
- Christopher Forbes, 33, of Dublin, Ga., is serving 97 months in prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine. As part of his plea agreement, Forbes forfeited his interest in 21 firearms and two silencers.
- Carl Davis, 50, of Jacksonville, Fla., is serving 88 months in prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine.
“Prior to the people of Laurens County electing me as sheriff, I promised I would work hard to eliminate the dangerous drug dealers from our community,” said Laurens County Sheriff Larry Dean. “I have and will continue to do so. My deputies will continue to work with other agencies on the local, state and federal level to ensure strong, swift convictions to the ones who choose to peddle dope here. My hat goes off to everyone who had a role in this case, from my staff all the way to the DEA and the U.S. Attorney's Office. I thank you all.”
“The insidious drug methamphetamine destroys families and communities,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “DEA and its law enforcement partners are committed to protect and serve those communities. This investigation was a success because of the collective effort between DEA, and its local, state and federal law enforcement counterparts.”
“There is no initiative more critical to ATF than increasing the safety of our communities. Cases which result in the arrests and prosecution of criminals are fundamental to continuing this initiative while simultaneously shows criminals that ATF and its law enforcement partners will not falter in this mission.” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “We will pursue criminals such as these wherever they may operate, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States, using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.
The case was investigated by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and the Ocmulgee Drug Task Force, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. Harper III, Frank M. Pennington II, and Southern District of Georgia OCDETF Coordinator Marcela C. Mateo.