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Feds charge 7 over deadly meth pipeline from Mexico to Augusta

U.S. District Court, federal courthouse, Augusta, Ga.
U.S. District Court, federal courthouse, Augusta, Ga.(WRDW)
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 3:29 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Seven people have been indicted in connection with a major meth-trafficking organization blamed for at least one overdose death.

Authorities said Friday that the investigation, dubbed Operation Wheat Fields, identified a pipeline of illegal drugs from Mexico routed through Atlanta and into the Augusta area. The investigation included multiple searches of homes and hotel rooms.

The investigation dates back to early 2018 and includes allegations of trafficking in large amounts of methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana, along with multiple firearms charges, according to federal prosecutors.

All of the defendants have appeared before a magistrate in U.S. District Court. They include:

  • Jayson Dwayne Wheatley, 41, 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, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and an amount of heroin and marijuana; distribution of heroin; possession of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; six counts of use of a communications facility, relating to the use of Facebook and a cellphone to facilitate the conspiracy; and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.
  • Jeffrey Mitchell Granade, 48, of Evans, 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, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and an amount of heroin and marijuana; possession of 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine; possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.
  • Steven Curtis Newman, 55, of Martinez, 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, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and an amount of heroin and marijuana; and possession of 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine.
  • Richard Travis Bargeron, 41, of Augusta, currently an inmate at the Coffee County Correctional Facility, 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, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and an amount of heroin and marijuana; possession of 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
  • Alvin Wayne Snellgrove, 63, of Evans, 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, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and an amount of heroin and marijuana; possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; and two counts of use of a communication facility.
  • Heather Nicole Disher, 42, 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, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and an amount of heroin and marijuana; possession of methamphetamine; and three counts of use of a communications facility.
  • Dana Alexander Rau, 48, 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, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and an amount of heroin and marijuana; possession of methamphetamine; use of a communications facility, relating to the use of a cell phone to facilitate the conspiracy; and possession of a firearm by a user of illegal drugs.

The conspiracy charge alone could bring a life sentence for each of the defendants.

Agencies involved in the case include the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office; and the Swainsboro Police Department, 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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