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Press Release

Armed drug trafficker sentenced to federal prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
Defendant admitted selling drugs, possessing weapons

AUGUSTA, GA:  An armed drug trafficker has been sentenced to federal prison after admitting he sold large quantities of drugs and possessed firearms in furtherance of the drug trafficking crime.

Jose Ramone Valero Jr., 24, of Stonecrest, Ga., was sentenced to 84 months in prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall also ordered Valero to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Illegal drugs and illegally possessed firearms are the combustible fuel that drives violent crime in far too many of our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “We will be relentless in removing dangerous criminals like Valero from our neighborhoods.”

Valero, previously a resident of Grovetown, Ga., and Augusta, prohibited from possessing firearms after being convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, but was found with drugs and multiple guns during state arrests in 2019 and 2020.

While out on bond on state charges, Valero was charged in a superseding federal indictment in 2021 and pled guilty to the two felony charges in January 2022. The plea included forfeiture of 11 firearms.

“Project Safe Neighborhoods is ATF’s main initiative to remove armed offenders from our communities,” said ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Beau Kolodka. “This substantial sentence would not have been possible without the hard work of our partners at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.”

This investigation took place under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney and Criminal Division Chief Patricia G. Rhodes.


Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422

Updated May 27, 2022

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 74-22