Tuesday, July 17, the remaining defendants, Charles Baker, Chrissy Baker and Linda Poole al entered please of ‘guilty’ to their charges in Gordon County Superior Court, and received varying sentences to serve in prison, according to a press release from the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office.
The sentencing wraps up an investigation and hundreds of man hours into the case started in 2009, according to the release.
In April of 2010, 20 defendants were arrested and indicted with different offenses. These offenses are violations of the (Georgia) Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organziation ‘RICO’ Act: conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine, conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute, sale of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine and theft, according to the release.
The bust was called “Operation Strong-Safety,” and involved an 11-month long investigation including surveillance, undercover work, covert recordings, controlled drug purchases, and many arrest and search warrants.
According to the release, the RICO Act is difficult to enforce and follow through on charges due to the monumental paperwork and man-hours involved to convict a large number of individuals, but as a part of the Major Crimes Unit, the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office worked in conjunction with the Gordon County District Attorney Joe Campbell to see indictments through to jail time served.
In past Calhoun Times articles, the ring was reportedly believed to have ties with Mexican drug cartels and participated in counter law enforcement tactics surveilling local law enforcement.
“For the past 25 or so years, local law enforcement has practiced ‘picking off’ individual drug dealers, individual burglars and thieves, and individual ‘fencers’ of stolen property. This tactic has proved largely unsuccessful, and has mostly resulted in large caseloads for probation and parole officers supervising repeat offenders. The response to crime has been reactive rather than proactive,” said Sheriff Mitch Ralston from a previous article in 2009, but says is still true today. “These organizations are like a poison oak vine, taking away a few leaves here and there and there is essentially useless. You must cut away the vine, and that’s what we’re doing in a RICO case, cutting away the vine. The reason I christened this case ‘Operation Strong Safety’ is that the detectives, like a strong safety football player, must be agile, knowledgeable, and react with swiftness. I am proud of what the Major Crimes Unit has accomplished.”