SAVANNAH, GA: Two Georgia men, including one from Bryan County, have been sentenced to federal prison for trafficking the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Darien Cothern, 34, of Marietta, Ga., was sentenced to 42 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and Javarus McKinney, a/k/a “Jody,” 34, of Richmond Hill, Ga., was sentenced to 130 months in prison followed by six years of supervised release, said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
McKinney was convicted after a four-day trial in March on charges of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, Fentanyl; Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Fentanyl; and Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Fentanyl in or Near Schools, but acquitted on enhanced charges related to the death of an overdose victim. Cothern pled guilty to Distribution of Fentanyl, and his plea acknowledged that the death resulted from the fentanyl the victim purchased from Cothern.
“Fentanyl is an addictive synthetic opioid that has flooded this country, and nearly 300 people in the United States die each day from drug overdoses including those from fentanyl,” said U.S. Attorney Steinberg. “Along with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to hold accountable those who deal in deadly illegal drugs.”
Richmond Hill Police officers initiated an investigation Aug. 12, 2020, after a 25-year-old male victim was found dead in a residential pool. An autopsy determined the man had a fatal dose of fentanyl in his system at the time of his death. Working with agents from the Savannah Office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, investigators identified McKinney as a Richmond Hill-area distributor of counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, and determined Cothern obtained the pills from McKinney and sold them to the victim.
“The Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT) is committed to collaborating with and assisting our fellow law enforcement agencies,” said CNT Director Michael G. Sarhatt. “This year alone, Chatham County has encountered over 65 overdose deaths, exceeding numbers from 2022. This abundant influx of fentanyl creates a significant threat to not only our community but to surrounding counties as well. CNT considers this a significant concern and is utilizing every asset to rid this hideous poison from our community. The sentences given to these defendants send a clear message to those distributing fentanyl on our streets: they will be caught and serve a lengthy prison term.”
“Fentanyl is extremely dangerous to the consumer and leaves behind a trail of devastation and destruction,” said Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “The defendants in this case had total disregard for the safety of others.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team, and the Richmond Hill Police Department, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Darron J. Hubbard and Frank M. Pennington II.