Heroin, fentanyl trafficking targeted in Operation Jump Start, with seven indicted on federal charges
Multi-agency investigation centered on Glynn, McIntosh counties
BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- Seven people have been charged in a drug trafficking conspiracy in an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court.
“The dangerous substance Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. The combination of these deadly substances has claimed many lives,” said Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Atlanta Field Division. “Because of the true spirit of law enforcement cooperation, we will halt the distribution of these dangerous and potentially deadly substances.”
Operation Jump Start, an investigation under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, took aim at distribution of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and other drugs in south Georgia, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Each defendant in the 12-count indictment is charged with conspiracy, which carries upon conviction, a penalty of up to 20 years in prison – and there is no parole in the federal system.
“Opioids – particularly synthetic analogues like fentanyl – are highly addictive and frequently deadly,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “We are proud to collaborate with our network of law enforcement partners to target those who would distribute this poison in our communities.”
“Illegal drugs have no place in Georgia. They are dangerous and threaten the safety of our communities,” said Vic Reynolds, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). “We will continue to work diligently along with our local and federal partners to investigate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.”
The investigation began in early 2019 when a source for the Glynn County Police Department identified distributors of heroin, cocaine and prescription pills in the Glynn and McIntosh County area.
With assistance from other law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, investigators conducted controlled purchases of drugs, searched homes and vehicles, and charged seven defendants in the now-unsealed indictment. Each of the seven defendants in U.S.A. vs. Joseph, et al., is charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Heroin, Fentanyl, and Cocaine. The defendants, and any additional charges, include:
- Nickson Joseph, aka “Cujo,” 55, of Brunswick, also charged with three counts of Distribution of Heroin; Distribution of Fentanyl; Possession with Intent to Distribute Alprazolam (Xanax); Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Fentanyl; Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Crack Cocaine; Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises; and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime;
- Edwuardo Moran, 56, of Townsend, Ga., also charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Crack Cocaine; Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises; Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug-Trafficking Crime; and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
- Danielle Moran, 43, of Brunswick, also charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Alprazolam;
- Yasmine Joseph, aka “Midget,” 30, of Hephzibah, Ga., also charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Alprazolam;
- Kirk Westberry, 28, of Brunswick, Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Fentanyl;
- Kelsey Little, 26, of Evans, Ga., Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Fentanyl; and,
- Tina Kalter, 42, of St. Simons Island, Ga.
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Each of the defendants has had an initial appearance hearing in U.S. District Court and awaits further legal proceedings.
These cases are part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. 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 is being investigated by the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the GBI, the Georgia State Patrol, the Glynn County Police Department, the Brunswick Police Department, and the Darien Police Department, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah J. Abrams and OCDETF Coordinator Marcela C. Mateo.
The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justhinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com, www.campusdrugprevention.org and www.dea.gov. Also follow DEA Atlanta via Twitter at @DEAATLANTADiv.