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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 23, 2020

"Operation Benchwarmers" Nets Nearly $1 Million In Illegal Narcotics, 16 Defendants In Custody, One Remails At-Large

Operation is Considered the Largest Officer-Involved Take-Down in ACCPD History

ATHENS, Ga. — More than 300 law enforcement members from 23 agencies and task forces participated in “Operation Benchwarmers,” a coordinated take-down capturing 16 of 17 defendants wanted on federal gun and drug charges, announced Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. The operation, believed to be the largest law enforcement operation in the history of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, took place on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 in the Athens-Clarke County, Georgia region, netting an estimated street value of $955,986 in illegal narcotics, including heroin and methamphetamine, along with 43 firearms and assault rifles, plus $84,013 in cash. One defendant remains at-large, Andrew Bravo Jimenez, aka “Droopy,” 25, of Athens and Texas. In addition, six individuals were taken into custody on state charges (see below). The investigation was conducted by the FBI Middle Georgia Safe Streets Gang Task Force, the Northeast Georgia Regional Drug Task Force, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia, with the assistance of the following agencies:

  • Athens-Clarke Fire Department
  • Banks County Sheriff’s Office
  • Clarke County Sheriff’s Office
  • DeKalb County Police Department
  • FBI
  • Georgia Bureau of Investigation
  • Georgia Department of Community Supervision
  • Georgia Department of Corrections
  • Georgia State Patrol
  • Greene County Sheriff’s Office
  • Gwinnett County Police Department
  • Homeland Security Investigations  
  • Madison County Sheriff’s Office
  • Oconee County Sheriff’s Office
  • City of Statham Police Department
  • United States Marshals Service
  • United States Probation Office
  • Walton County Sheriff’s Office

Federal indictments charging 17 individuals have been unsealed. An indictment is only an allegation of criminal conduct, and all of the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. The following individuals are charged and have been taken into custody, unless otherwise noted:

16 of the individuals are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and crack cocaine. The penalty is a mandatory minimum ten years in prison up to a maximum life term in prison, a $10 million dollar fine and five years supervised release:

Rickshun Willigham, aka “Teddy,” 32, of Athens

Jaquavious T. Turner, aka “Take One”

Jamian Huff, aka “Dunk,” 34, of Athens

Andrew Bravo Jimenez, aka “Droopy” (at-large)

Manuel Gonzalez Romero, of Athens and Mexico

Steven Ricole Scott, aka “Black,” aka “Unc,” 43, of Athens

Antonio M. Mitchell, aka “Tonio,” 30, of Athens

Marques Ward, aka “YG,” 31, of Athens

Ttajia Forney, 19, of Athens

Christopher Sanders, aka “Chris,” 33, of Athens

Bernard Barnett, aka “Nard,” 22, of Athens

Maquila Jones, aka “Qui,” 20, of Athens

Nicholas Jackson, aka “Nick Bean,” 26, of Athens

Terrell Bush, aka “T-Rock,” 45, of Athens

Shaddrick Cox, aka “Shad,” 24, of Athens

Robert Bolton, Jr., aka “Rob,” 31, of Athens

10 individuals are charged with distribution of cocaine base/crack cocaine. The penalties range from a maximum 20 years in prison to a maximum 40 years in prison: 

Rickshun Willigham, aka “Teddy,” 32, of Athens (15 counts)

Jaquavious T. Turner, aka “Take One” (9 counts)

Jamian Huff, aka “Dunk,” 34, of Athens

Bernard Barnett, aka “Nard,” 22, of Athens (2 counts)

Shaddrick Cox, aka “Shad,” 24, of Athens

Steven Ricole Scott, aka “Black,” aka “Unc,” 43, of Athens (3 counts)

Christopher Sanders, aka “Chris,” 33, of Athens

Robert Bolton, Jr., aka “Rob,” 31, of Athens

Antonio M. Mitchell, aka “Tonio,” 30, of Athens

Maquila Jones, aka “Qui,” 20, of Athens

8 individuals are charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The penalty is a mandatory minimum five years in prison up to a maximum life term in prison: 

Rickshun Willigham, aka “Teddy,” 32, of Athens (12 counts)

Jaquavious T. Turner, aka “Take One” (7 counts)

Bernard Barnett, aka “Nard,” 22, of Athens (3 counts)

Christopher Sanders, aka “Chris,” 33, of Athens

Antonio M. Mitchell, aka “Tonio,” 30, of Athens

Marques Ward, aka “YG,” 31, of Athens

Ttajia Forney, 19, of Athens

Shaddrick Cox, aka “Shad,” 24, of Athens

3 individuals are charged with distribution of heroin. The penalty is a maximum 20 years in prison: 

Rickshun Willigham, aka “Teddy,” 32, of Athens (5 counts)

Jaquavious T. Turner, aka “Take One” (3 counts)

Bernard Barnett, aka “Nard,” 22, of Athens (2 counts)

6 individuals are charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin. The penalties range from a maximum 20 years in prison to a maximum 40 years in prison:

Marques Ward, aka “YG,” 31, of Athens

Ttajia Forney, 19, of Athens

Terrell Bush, aka “T-Rock,” 45, of Athens

Nicholas Jackson, aka “Nick Bean,” 26, of Athens 

Manuel Gonzalez Romero, of Athens and Mexico 

Andrew Bravo Jimenez, aka “Droopy” (at-large)

2 individuals are charged with distribution of methamphetamine. The penalty is a maximum 20 years in prison: 

Rickshun Willigham, aka “Teddy,” 32, of Athens

Bernard Barnett, aka “Nard,” 22, of Athens

2 individuals are charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The penalty is a maximum 20 years in prison: 

Marques Ward, aka “YG,” 31, of Athens

Ttajia Forney, 19, of Athens 

1 individual is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The penalty is a maximum ten years in prison:

Armand Payne, 39, of Athens

The following subjects were taken into custody during “Operation Benchwarmers” on state charges:

Luis Besave-Lagunas (Charged in Madison County with Trafficking Heroin, Trafficking Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony)

Zenon Carrera-Ferrer (Charged in Athens-Clarke County with Trafficking Methamphetamine, Trafficking Heroin and Possession of Cocaine)

Dwight Moreland (Probation Violation)

Andreas Lane (Charged in Madison County with Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and Probation Violation)

Adian Mapp (Charged in Madison County with Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon)

Leonard Jackson (Charged in Athens-Clarke County with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon)

The following firearms, cash and illegal drugs were seized: 

  • 43 firearms seized (including 8 assault rifles)
  • $84,013 U.S. Currency seized
  • 8.34 kilograms of heroin (Street Value: $667,200)
  • 4.3 pounds of crystal methamphetamine (Street Value: $195,400)
  • 26.1 ounces of crack cocaine (Street Value: $78,200)
  • 2.4 pounds of marijuana (Street Value: $4,376)
  • 3.31 ounces of power cocaine (Street Value: $9,400)
  • 94 controlled pharmaceuticals (Street Value: $940)
  • 40 grams of oxycodone (Street Value: $470)
     

“This operation represents the best of what law enforcement can accomplish when federal, state and local agencies come together with the unified goal of eradicating drug trafficking from a community,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “Our message to drug traffickers and gang members and other criminals in Athens is clear:  Law enforcement is committed to protecting the citizens of Athens from illegal guns, gangs and drugs. I want to thank all participating agencies involved in this historic operation.”

“This case is a perfect example of how the FBI’s partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are integral to protecting law abiding citizens in our communities,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The results of this operation speak for that. There is no question that our community is safer today than it was before these arrests.”

“The broad collection of law enforcement agencies allowed for an aggressive offense to be waged against a well-established poly-drug distribution network,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “Drug traffickers ultimately bring misery and destruction to communities. Consequently, DEA, its law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to serving and protecting these communities. The city of Athens, Georgia and surrounding areas are safer because these criminals have been removed from our streets.”

“With these arrests, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department is demonstrating its commitment to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to remove violent felons from our community,” said ACCPD Chief Cleveland Spruill. “These suspects, with extensive criminal histories, face significantly long sentences in federal prison. It further indicates that the ACCPD does not tolerate gun violence and drug trafficking within our community. We are grateful for the efforts of our officers who have worked countless hours on this case and acknowledge the support of the many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.”

The investigation was conducted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.

Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.

Topic(s): 
Project Guardian
Component(s): 
Updated January 23, 2020