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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 17, 2022

Career Offender Sentenced to 200 Months Imprisonment in SWGA Illegal Drug Market Case

Seven Co-Defendants Convicted and Sentenced in 2021

ALBANY, Ga. – The final defendant involved in a high-volume drug trafficking operation was sentenced to federal prison for his crime.

Eddie Houston, 43, of McDonough, Georgia, was sentenced as a career offender to serve 200 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release after he previously pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine before U.S. District Judge Leslie Gardner on Nov. 15, 2021. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Career criminal offenders will face the possibility of federal prosecution and lengthy prison sentences for choosing to repeatedly break the law and diminish the well-being and safety of our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will hold repeat offenders accountable for their crimes.”

“This case demonstrates the commitment of the FBI and our partners to end an epidemic that is killing our citizens and making our communities more dangerous,” said Phillip Wislar, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The fact that Houston received such a lengthy sentence is an example of how serious this crime is and serves as a warning to anyone who is involved in drug trafficking that they will be brought to justice for their crimes.”

“These sentences are a direct result of the dedicated efforts of the DEA and its law enforcement partners,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division.  “The distribution of methamphetamine continues to ravage many communities across the country. Southwest Georgia and elsewhere are much safer because these drug traffickers have been removed from the streets.”

“This investigation illustrates that drug trafficking at any level will not be tolerated in the state of Georgia. It is paramount that violators of drug laws be held accountable. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is fully committed to working with our local and federal partners in drug enforcement to address these types of crimes,” said GBI Director Vic Reynolds.

“The efforts of the local, state and federal agencies involved are evident of the commitment to addressing crime in our neighborhoods. We will continue to use all resources available to remove

those persons and groups intent on enabling the drug culture to exist and flourish within our community,” said Albany Police Chief Michael Persley.

According to court documents, Houston’s convicted co-defendants Sherrod Winchester and James Malone, 52, both of Albany, regularly obtained and distributed large quantities of a variety of controlled substances for distribution in Albany and Panama City, Florida, since May 2018. Under surveillance, GBI agents observed Houston and convicted co-defendant Shannon Mason, 41, of Leesburg, Georgia, who regularly acted as an illegal drug courier for Winchester and Malone, conducting an exchange with a man at a drug store parking lot in Stone Mountain, Georgia, in February 2020. Officers stopped and arrested Houston and Mason in possession of 1,106 grams of cocaine and 990 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride.

Winchester, Malone, and Mason—along with other co-defendants—were convicted and sentenced earlier this year for their roles in operating a high-volume drug trafficking operation in Albany. Winchester was sentenced to serve 300 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release after he previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute controlled substances; Malone was sentenced to serve 240 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine; and, Mason was sentenced to serve 75 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release after she pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine. To learn more about this case, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdga/pr/southwest-georgian-sentenced-25-years-prison-operating-high-volume-open-air-illegal

The case was investigated by the FBI, DEA, GBI and the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah McEwen prosecuted the case.

Updated February 17, 2022