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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Convicted drug trafficker sentenced to nearly 25 years in federal prison in operation that sold large amounts of cocaine and marijuana

Traffickers shipped cash hidden in cotton-candy machines

SAVANNAH, GA:  One of the leaders of a conspiracy that imported large amounts of cocaine and marijuana into Georgia has been sentenced to nearly 25 years in federal prison.

Karteau Omar Jenkins, a/k/a “Yay,” 43, of Stone Mountain, Ga., was sentenced to 290 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. A jury in 2019 convicted Jenkins for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Cocaine and 50 Kilograms or More of Marijuana, and Possession with Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Cocaine.

After completion of his prison term, Jenkins will be required to serve five years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

“From investigation, to trial, to conviction, our law enforcement partners worked tirelessly to produce a case that provided our prosecutors with the essential tools and evidence to put Jenkins and his co-conspirators behind bars,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “This relentless pursuit in Operation Five Hole makes the community safer by removing these importers of poison from our community.”

Eugene Markeith Allen, a/k/a “Poncho,” 43, a former Savannah resident convicted of leading the drug trafficking conspiracy, awaits sentencing after a jury also convicted him in 2019 of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Cocaine and 50 Kilograms or More of Marijuana.  

Allen, a leader in the Gangster Disciples criminal street gang, was serving a life sentence at Autry State Prison for a 2006 murder conviction when he used smuggled contraband phones to direct Jenkins and other members of the extensive drug trafficking conspiracy that imported marijuana and cocaine from California into Atlanta and throughout the Savannah area.

Jenkins and Allen were among 20 defendants indicted in August 2017 in Operation Five Hole, a multi-agency investigation targeting the drug trafficking organization that hid cash proceeds from drug sales in cotton candy machines for shipment by U.S. Mail and in vehicles with hidden compartments. The operation netted the seizure of pounds of marijuana and kilos of cocaine, along with nearly $400,000 in cash and multiple firearms.

Of the other 18 defendants indicted in the conspiracy, 16 have pled guilty and have been sentenced or await sentencing, with cases dismissed against two defendants. Twelve other defendants pled guilty to federal charges related to the operation and have been sentenced.

“Not only did this extensive investigation and prosecution shut down major cocaine distributors across the state of Georgia, but it now has put one of the conspiracy leaders behind bars for a substantial amount of time,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This successful sentence could not have been achieved without the hard work and cooperation of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, a part of the Southeast Georgia Violent Crimes Task Force.”  

“Using the collective resources of local, state, and federal agencies is critical to targeting criminal organizations trafficking drugs across the country and into our community.  The multi-agency cooperation throughout the investigation and prosecution of this case was essential to its success,” Director Michael G. Sarhatt of the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team said. “CNT is proud to be a part of this joint operation which shows the strength of the law enforcement partnerships in the Chatham County area.” 

The case was investigated as an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Chatham County Narcotics Unit (CNT), the Savannah Police Department, the Chatham and Effingham County Sheriffs’ Offices, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The cases were prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah Abrams and Frank Pennington, with assistance from Litigation Technologist Dean Athanasopoulos. 

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Contact: 
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-642-4422
Press Release Number: 
26-21
Updated February 17, 2021