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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2003

"Operation Buford Clean-up" Sweep Results In Indictments/Arrests

William S. Duffey, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and W. Michael Furgason, Sr., Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announce that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against GAIL DENISE HUTCHINSON, a/k/a "Gail Porter," 53, RONALD MONROE LOTT, a/k/a "Ronnie," 47, STACY DEON CUNNINGHAM, 34, GRADY CHARLES PORTER, 61, ROBERT HAYWOOD JOHNSON, 54, RUFUS LEE MILLSAP, a/k/a "Man Man," 33, and JIMMY FRED VEGA, 22, all of Buford, Georgia, on charges relating to a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. According to Duffey:

In two separate but related indictments handed down by a federal grand jury, HUTCHINSON, LOTT, CUNNINGHAM, PORTER, JOHNSON, MILLSAP, and VEGA are charged with being engaged in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in the Buford, Georgia, area, between a date unknown to the grand jury, and August 21, 2001.

The DEA announced today that this case is the result of an multi-jurisdictional investigation named "Operation Buford Cleanup," which began with complaints of crack cocaine distribution in a specific neighborhood area of Buford, and resulted in an early morning sweep of named defendants by federal, state and local law enforcement. In addition to the arrests, the DEA announced that eight late model vehicles, a motorcycle and 11 firearms were seized. One of the guns seized was a .50 caliber semi-automatic pistol. Initial appearances for most of the defendants are expected to be held before a United States Magistrate judge today and tomorrow.

The DEA's Atlanta Field Division Office conducted Operation Buford Clean-Up, as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The investigation included the DEA, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigative Division, Gwinnett County Drug Task Force, and the Gwinnett County District Attorney's Office.

The DEA said today that this four-year investigation was initiated in March, 1999, and concentrated on the distribution of crack cocaine from an area no larger than five square miles located in the center of Buford, GA. The joint effort of local agencies and the DEA disclosed an organization consisting of numerous individuals who were distributing crack cocaine area for several years. The DEA says these arrests are expected to have a significant impact in the Buford, Georgia, area. The organization controlled crack distribution for a large area that exceeded the boundaries of Gwinnett County, and extended to the Atlanta and Gainesville, Georgia, areas.

DEA Special Agent in Charge W. Michael Furgason, Sr. stated, "Crack cocaine takes a very serious toll on our communities. The extremely high rate of addiction and violence associated with the abuse of this drug is well documented. The DEA is committed to assisting our state and local partners in law enforcement. Working together is the key to empowering our communities and protecting our children."

Furgason noted that crack cocaine is the "rock" form of cocaine, a stimulant, and is a ready-to-use freebase. On the illicit market it is sold in small, inexpensive dosage units that are smoked. Smoking delivers large quantities of cocaine to the lungs producing effects comparable to intravenous injection; these effects are almost immediate after smoking and very intense. Furgason said that crack abuse is also often associated with violence.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Assistant United States Attorney BJay Pak is prosecuting this case.

For further information please contact William S. Duffey, Jr., United States Attorney or F. Gentry Shelnutt, Chief, Criminal Division, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.usdoj.gov/usao/gan. You may also contact W. Michael Furgason, Sr., DEA Special Agent in Charge through Group Supervisor Ruth Porter-Whipple at the DEA/Atlanta Office at (404) 893-7128.

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