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Press Release

Five defendants in Operation Vanilla Gorilla sentenced for drug conspiracy, weapons crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
Federal sentences include leaders of criminal conspiracy

SAVANNAH, GA.:  Five drug-trafficking conspirators and affiliates of the violent Ghost Face Gangsters criminal street gang are being sent to federal prison just days after prosecutors notched the final convictions of all 43 defendants in Operation Vanilla Gorilla.

Those sentenced this week for drug trafficking conspiracy and firearms violations include a purported leader of the conspiracy and an enforcer of gang rules, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

“Outstanding work from our law enforcement partners and prosecutors wrapped up these cases with convictions of every defendant just eight short months after their indictments,” U.S. Attorney Christine said. “The significant federal prison sentences for these criminals should make it clear that we will not tolerate street gangs who peddle poison in our neighborhoods and violate the safety of our citizens. We will find them, and we will shut them down.”

U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker sentenced five more of the 43 defendants to substantial prison terms, and upon completion of their sentences each will serve an additional three to five years of supervised release. To date, 21 defendants have been sentenced for their roles in the criminal conspiracy. Those sentenced this week are:

David McCloskey, a/k/a “Larchmont,” 47, of Augusta, Ga., was sentenced to nearly 24 years in prison: 165 months for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and 120 months for being a Prohibited Person in Possession of a Firearm. McCloskey was a leader in the drug conspiracy.  

Joshua McNelly, 26, Savannah, was sentenced to 210 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 5 Grams or More of Methamphetamine;

Dillon Myrick, a/k/a “Country Crack,” 31, of Port Wentworth, Ga., was sentenced to 120 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine. As a “violator” in the Ghost Face Gangsters, Myrick’s job was to collect drug debts, settle disputes, and assault those believed to be enemies of the street gang.

Crystal Wilson, 37, of Bloomingdale, Ga., was sentenced to 65 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine; and,

Kari Neely, 27, of Statesboro, Ga., was sentenced to 24 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine.

Some of these defendants were on probation or parole when they committed the offenses, so the federal sentences will run consecutive to the sentences for violating state probation or parole.  There is no parole in the federal system.

As noted in court, these five defendants had a combined total of at least 19 state convictions, including at least three felony convictions, and had previously violated state probation at least four times. 

These five defendants were members of a major drug trafficking organization that distributed kilogram quantities of crystal methamphetamine (“ice”) in the Southern District of Georgia and elsewhere. McCloskey received pounds of crystal methamphetamine and delivered it for others to distribute.  When Effingham County deputies arrested McCloskey on April 16, 2018, he had in his possession a kilogram of crystal methamphetamine, a firearm with two fully loaded magazines, $2,225 in cash, and drug trafficking scales.  McNelly transported and distributed kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and possessed firearms. Myrick served as a “violator” for the Ghost Face Gangsters, and both Wilson and Neely stored, transported, and distributed drugs for the organization. 

“These sentences will ensure the incarceration of dangerous criminals and contribute to the restoration of order and peace,” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Operation Vanilla Gorilla was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), the premier U.S. Department of Justice program to dismantle multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking organizations. The case was investigated by the ATF, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT), the Georgia Department of Corrections Intelligence Division, the Savannah Police Department, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, the Richmond Hill Police Department, the Pooler Police Department, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office and the Bloomingdale Police Department, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys E. Greg Gilluly Jr. and Frank Pennington.


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

Updated July 26, 2019

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 75-19