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Press Release

Lead defendant sentenced in south Georgia drug trafficking operation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
All defendants entered guilty pleas in Operation Jump's Start

BRUNSWICK, GA:  The leader of a south Georgia drug trafficking operation has been sentenced to federal prison, while the final defendant in the investigation awaits sentencing after all entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court.

Nickson Joseph, a/k/a “Cujo,” 57, of Brunswick, was sentenced to 110 months in prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, Heroin and Alprazolam, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood also fined Joseph $1,500 and ordered him to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

“The investigation and prosecution in Operation Jump’s Start is an outstanding example of the successful partnership between local, state, and federal agencies in coordinating the fight against drug trafficking organizations,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “We are committed to collaborating with our law enforcement partners to make our streets safer by identifying and prosecuting criminal conspiracies.”

Operation Jump’s Start, an investigation under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), took aim at the distribution of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and other drugs in south Georgia. It began in 2019 when a source for the Glynn County Sheriff's Office identified illegal drug distributors in the Glynn, Camden, and McIntosh County area.

With assistance from other law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Glynn County Sheriff’s Office investigators conducted controlled purchases of drugs, searched homes and vehicles, and charged seven defendants, identifying Joseph as the main distributor. Four others named in the conspiracy have been sentenced after pleading guilty. The remaining defendant, Kirk Westberry, 30, of Brunswick, is scheduled for sentencing in May after pleading guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine.

“We look forward to a continued working relationship between the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies,” said Neal Jump, Sheriff of Glynn County. “Our commitment is to take the drugs off the street and lock up the ones doing harm to our citizens.” 

“Operation Jump’s Start was a tremendous success as it nabbed the ringleader of a once-thriving drug trafficking organization and several of his associates,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “This criminal organization has reached its final chapter, and its members will now spend well-deserved time in prison.”

“Illegal drugs have no place in Georgia,” said Vic Reynolds, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “They are dangerous and threaten the safety of our communities. We will continue to work diligently along with our local and federal partners to investigate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.”

Operation Jump’s Start was investigated under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, which identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. The case was investigated by the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office, the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the GBI, the Georgia State Patrol, the Glynn County Police Department, the Brunswick Police Department, and the Darien Police Department, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah J. Abrams and OCDETF Coordinator Marcela C. Mateo.


Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer:

Updated April 25, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 56-22