Skip to main content
Press Release

Atlanta drug trafficker sentenced for heroin distribution

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Georgia

ATLANTA – Ramone Shirley has been sentenced for possession with the intent to distribute heroin. Shirley is a prior convicted felon who had nearly 200 grams of heroin and two firearms in his possession when officers arrested him in 2018.

“Repeat offenders like Shirley pose a serious threat to public safety,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “Their continual return to criminal activity represents a lack of fear of consequences for their actions.  Citizens deserve safety and a drug-free community.  Through our commitment to Operation SCOPE, we will continue prosecuting and removing repeat offenders from our streets.”

“This is a perfect example of cooperative drug law enforcement.  The Atlanta-Carolinas HIDTA is committed to working with our Federal, State, Local and Tribal partners to rid our communities of this poison,” said HIDTA Executive Director Dan R. Salter.

“The successful results of this investigation should let career criminals like Mr. Shirley know that those who flood our streets with dangerous drugs like heroin, will ultimately be brought to justice by DEA, its law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division.

“We are pleased that our combined efforts have led to the conviction of this repeat offender and he will no longer be distributing his poison on the streets of Atlanta,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Hammer. “HSI is proud of its strong partnership with DEA Atlanta and will continue to partner with them to maximize our capabilities in dismantling these criminal networks.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: In June 2016, Shirley distributed three kilograms of cocaine to another drug dealer inside his shop in Atlanta, Georgia. The cocaine was seized by Georgia State Patrol during a traffic stop, and DEA and Homeland Security Investigations agents eventually identified Shirley as the cocaine source.

After further investigation, agents arrested Shirley at his home on charges of distributing the cocaine seized in the 2016 traffic stop. During the arrest, they found a kilo-press, money counter, nearly 200 grams of heroin, and two loaded firearms, including one with an extended magazine. Agents also found parts of a kilo-press at Shirley’s shop, and his phone had videos of him waving vacuum-sealed bundles of cash. As a result of his conviction, Shirley forfeited his boat, a truck, two Harley Davidson motorcycles, and cash.

Ramone Shirley, a/k/a “Big Play Ray,” 44, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mark H. Cohen to seven years in prison to be followed by four years of supervised release.  Shirley was convicted on these charges on April 9, 2019, after he pleaded guilty.

This case is presented as a part of Operation SCOPE (Strategically Combatting Opioids through Prosecution and Enforcement), which is an initiative launched by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to partner with federal and local law enforcement to fight the devastating effects that illegally-prescribed painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl have on our neighborhoods.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Atlanta-Carolina High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Hartigan prosecuted the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site:

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

Updated November 15, 2019

Drug Trafficking