Sheriff: After cocaine bust, Augusta becoming central point for drug trade

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Jimmy Alexander Pujols, 35, and Fausto Mendez Ramos, 40, are charged in a federal complaint with conspiracy charges related to the seizure, U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine said. (Source: Richmond County Sheriff's Office)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- A big bust put two men behind bars in Augusta. Investigators say Fausto Ramos and Jimmy Pujols had more than 40 pounds of cocaine in a warehouse.

Investigators say the street value of the cocaine was around $845,000. Two Richmond County investigators with Augusta's DEA Task Force helped make the arrests with other federal agencies.

The sheriff's office says Augusta is becoming a central distribution point for drugs.

Michael Williams lives just a few blocks from where investigators found almost a million dollars of cocaine.

“That’s a lot of money,” Williams said.

He says he's never heard of a drug bust like this so close to home.

“Like I said, it could happen anywhere, but I'm kind of surprised,” Williams said.

Augusta is definitely anywhere, and the cocaine investigators located totaled up for be just over 23 kilos of cocaine – all of it from the Port of Savannah.

To put it into perspective, that amount of cocaine is equal to just under 47 pounds of sugar.

“The Port of Savannah is a huge index because of the fact that you can be able to ship more drugs in a higher number of volume,” Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said.

Roundtree says drugs are also coming here from Atlanta. Last year, law enforcement seized a million dollars worth of drugs in Augusta.

“If you ship the drugs here, in two hours you can be in every major city in Georgia -- two hours from Columbus, two hours from Macon, two hours from Savannah,” Roundtree said.

Roundtree says they’ve also seen an increase in violence.

“I would say well over 60 percent of our gun-related crimes have some kind of drug nexus to it,” Roundtree said.

So to cut down on the crime, the sheriff’s office is running longer investigations and taking down large organizations.

If you can start taking down 10, 12, 13 people at a time, then you actually start to see an impact, and you see the disruption of guns and also a disruption of narcotics in your area,” Roundtree said.

The sheriff's office says they use surveillance and wire-taps to help track down the criminals. Roundtree says some of the investigations take a year or longer, but they are putting in the time and prosecuting them federally so that they do every day of their sentence.

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