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Press Release

Johnson County man sentenced to federal prison for lead role in drug trafficking conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
Defendant, four others also await sentencing for dog fighting

DUBLIN, GA:  A Johnson County man has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug trafficking, and awaits sentencing with other defendants after pleading guilty to dog fighting charges.

Travis Lee Martin, a/k/a “Fat,” 42, of Wrightsville, Ga., was sentenced to 200 months in prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine and 100 Grams or More of Heroin, said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen ordered the sentence to run consecutively to a pending sentence Martin faces in a related dogfighting case, fined Martin $5,000 and ordered him to serve five years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

“This sentence is a testament to the outstanding investigation by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other law enforcement agencies that identified and dismantled Martin’s multi-county drug trafficking and dog fighting operations,” said U.S. Attorney Steinberg. “These collaborations are vital in eradicating dangerous criminal activity in our communities.”

Martin and 11 co-defendants were named in a 27-count drug conspiracy indictment unsealed in December 2022, identifying an operation distributing methamphetamine and heroin in Laurens, Treutlen, Johnson, and Emanuel counties. The three-year investigation led to multiple searches of residences and vehicles, resulting in numerous seizures of drugs, cash and firearms. Martin’s guilty plea in the case acknowledges the forfeiture of $80,050 in cash seized during the investigation.

All of the remaining defendants have been sentenced after pleading guilty to related charges and are serving sentences of up to 87 months in prison.

During the drug trafficking investigation, authorities also rescued 96 dogs suspected to be part of a dog fighting operation from three Johnson County locations, a location in Laurens County and one in Washington County. Martin and four co-defendants await sentencing after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Welfare Act, a charge that carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to five years in prison. Among those co-defendants is Sentell Eugene Carey, 40, of Wrightsville, Ga., who is serving four years’ probation after also pleading guilty in the drug trafficking case. Judge Bowen will schedule sentencing hearings after U.S. Probation Services completes pre-sentence investigations for each defendant.

The dogs were seized in a civil action brought by the Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Marshals Service contracted with an agency to provide veterinary service, care and rehabilitation of the rescued dogs.

“Illicit drugs like methamphetamine and heroin have destroyed countless lives,” Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Division stated, “Cases like this clearly demonstrate the resolve of the DEA to hold criminals accountable.”

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General-Investigations, actively investigates allegations of animal abuse.  This agency has made animal fighting a high priority in order to demonstrate that these blatant acts of cruelty to animals will no longer be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge Miles Davis. “We would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica K. Rock for aggressively prosecuting perpetrators of animal fighting, and our federal,  local state law enforcement partners, for their dedicated work in this investigation.”

The drug trafficking case was investigated by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration, with the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Southeastern Regional Drug Enforcement Office, the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Ocmulgee Drug Task Force, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer J. Kirkland.

The criminal dog fighting prosecution was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and local law enforcement agencies, and prosecuted for the United States by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica K. Rock, while the civil forfeiture of the dogs was coordinated by Southern District of Georgia Civil Division Chief Shannon Heath Statkus.


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

Updated February 23, 2024

Animal Welfare
Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 13-24