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Press Release

30 Savannah Residents Charged With Federal Firearms, Drug Trafficking, Robbery, And Related Offenses

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

SAVANNAH, GA – Federal indictments and criminal complaints were unsealed yesterday against 30 Savannah residents charged with federal firearms, drug trafficking, robbery, and related offenses.  The charges are the result of joint federal, state, and local efforts to reduce violent crime and drug activities in the Savannah area.  The focus of this joint operation was the historic Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood, a small neighborhood near downtown Savannah that has seen a significant rise in crime in the past year. 

The Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Savannah, Georgia, roughly bounded by Anderson Lane, West 31st Street, Montgomery Street, Victory Drive, Ogeechee Road, and Hopkins Street.  It is a residential neighborhood that was designed shortly after the Civil War, and it is recognized as a National Register Historic District.  The neighborhood contains homes, churches, schools, and businesses.  Over the last year, there has been an increase in violence and drug activity in the neighborhood.  Some Cuyler-Brownsville residents have expressed to local police that they fear sitting on their own porches because of shootings.

To address the apparent increase in violent crime and drug activities, the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department (SCMPD), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), began a joint investigation to identify and arrest the criminals operating in and around the neighborhood. Law enforcement used a number of investigative techniques to identify the targets, including undercover purchases of drugs and firearms and extensive surveillance. 

In early November 2017, the federal grand jury for the Southern District of Georgia indicted 13 of the 30 defendants identified as a result of this investigation.  Those indictments initially were returned under seal.  Last week, a federal Magistrate Judge issued sealed criminal complaints and arrest warrants against the other 17 defendants. 

On November 28, 2017, local, state, and federal law enforcement officers executed four federal search warrants, two state search warrants, and dozens of arrests warrants.  Federal detainers additionally were placed on a number of defendants who are presently incarcerated on state charges.  Today, the indictments complaints, and federal warrants were unsealed, and many of the charged defendants made their initial appearance in federal court.

The federal charges and maximum penalties include:

  • Felon in Possession of Firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), which typically carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.  However, if a defendant has three prior convictions for violent crimes or serious drug offenses, then the minimum sentence is 15 years’ imprisonment and the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.  
  • Drug User in Possession of Firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3), which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.
  • Distribution of Controlled Substances, and Possession of Controlled Substances with Intent to Distribute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), which typically carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, but may carry increased minimum and maximum terms of imprisonment based on the quantity of controlled substances involved and the prior drug convictions of the defendant. 
  • Interference with Commerce by Robbery of a Business, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, which carries a potential sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
  • Carrying a Firearm During and in Relation To a Crime of Violence or Drug Trafficking Crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which carries a potential sentence of not less than 5 years’ imprisonment, and up to life imprisonment, consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

During the investigation, law enforcement investigators seized dozens of firearms, including semi-automatic pistols, revolvers, assault-style rifles, shotguns, and firearms with extended magazines, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.  Many of the firearms seized during this investigation had previously been stolen and were connected to prior shootings in Savannah.  One stolen firearm that was recovered was used in four separate shootings within the Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood.  Another firearm recovered was used in eleven prior shootings in and around Savannah.  Additionally, investigators seized body armor and quantities of numerous controlled substances, including cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, MDMA (ecstasy), heroin, and oxycodone. 

The Savannah residents charged with federal crimes include:

Jamall Brightwell, age 22,

Frederick Brown, a/k/a “Freddie B,” age 36,

Derrick Butler, a/k/a “Rico,” age 29,

Animahaun Cole, age 43,

Trishon Collins, age 23,

Andre Cooper, a/k/a “Minuteman,” a/k/a “Coop,” age 30,

Deandre Davis, age 31,

Omesimus Franklin, 42,

Baheem Frazier, age 25,

Jadonte Gadsden, a/k/a “Jadonte Hood,” age 20,

George Graham, age 38,

Lorenzo Graham, a/k/a “Zo,” age 32,

Eshon Grant, age 25,

Dennis Grubbs, a/k/a “Lil Red,” age 33,

Julian Harris, a/k/a “Ju Ju,” age 50,

Nathaniel Harvey, age 20,

Darrell McRae, a/k/a “General,” a/k/a “Ghetto,” age 44,

George Truman Polite, age 29,

Joseph Price, age 32,

Emmitt Scott, a/k/a “Scooda,” 32,

John Scott, age 20,

Shawn Seibert, age 26,

Leonard Washington, a/k/a “Guzzi,” age 37,

Floyd Williams, a/k/a “Ricardo Williams,” age 65,

Raheem Williams, a/k/a “Bucket,” age 25,

Raynard Williams, age 20,

Tyrone Williams, a/k/a “T Y,” age 42,

Quentin Wright, age 35,

Deonta Young, a/k/a “Fluid,” a/k/a “Flow,” a/k/a “Lil D,” a/k/a “D,” age 27, and

Larry Young, age 39.

Some of the defendants are alleged in the pending federal charges to have actively employed firearms during criminal activity.  For example, Quentin Wright, is charged with brandishing and using a firearm during a robbery of a Savannah business.  Deonta Young is charged with possessing a firearm and ammunition that he allegedly used to kill one victim and injure another at a Savannah residence.  (Mr. Young also faces additional state charges, including murder, arising from this incident.)

United States Attorney Attorney Bobby L. Christine said, “The federal government is committed to working with local and state law enforcement agencies to make our neighborhoods safe again.  Families should be able to sit on their own porches and children able to play in front yards without fear of being hit by a stray bullet.  Citizens called for help, and we responded.  Let this prosecution serve as notice:  violent crime in Savannah will equal lengthy federal jail time.” 

“This operation has dismantled a serious criminal enterprise which funneled guns and drugs into our communities,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Wayne Dixie.  “ATF and its law enforcement partners acted quickly and judiciously on information developed during this ten month long investigation.  The safety of the public is at the core of ATF’s mission, and we stand at the front line eradicating violent crime from our streets.”

GBI Special Agent in Charge Jamie Jones said, “Cases and outcomes like this are a true testament to the fortitude of agents to pursue and diligently investigate all avenues presented to them.  This case is also an example of the teamwork and collaborative efforts that exist among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.”

“This operation highlights the importance of the partnerships between law enforcement agencies,” said Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap.  “I would like to thank them for the time and energy that went into making this project successful.  The dedication of all the partners has contributed to the reduction of crime in some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in our community.”

SCMPD Chief Joseph H. Lumpkin, Sr., said, “The SCMPD certainly appreciates the collaboration, cooperation, and engagement of our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners.  We value and appreciate the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office and their commitment to aggressively addressing violent criminals.  Many violent offenders were taken off the street in this joint operation, and those numbers will continue to climb.  We will keep a laser focus on criminals, groups, and gangs in this community that commit violent acts.  We will arrest and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law to make Savannah-Chatham a safer place.”

Everett Ragan, Director of the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team, said, “The success of this investigation further solidifies the importance of partnerships in the fight to rid this community of dangerous drugs and individuals.”

United States Attorney Christine emphasized that an indictment or criminal complaint is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The operation was investigated by ATF, GBI and SCMPD, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT) and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorneys Greg Gilluly, Tania Groover and Matthew Josephson are prosecuting these cases for the United States. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last month a recommitment of the United States Department of Justice to Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program dedicated to bringing together federal, state, and local law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.  The United States Attorney’s Office incorporated key components of the PSN strategy into the Cuyler-Brownsville operation, including strong federal involvement, the cultivation of partnerships with local law enforcement and community stakeholders, targeted enforcement in those areas most affected by violent crime, and outreach efforts designed to prevent violent crime before it occurs.  

For any questions, please contact Appellate Chief R. Brian Tanner at (912) 652-4422.

Updated November 29, 2017