Police: Gang trafficking drugs was being run from behind bars

Officers arrested 32 people and confiscated cash, guns and cellphones

By Joe Kovac Jr.
The Macon Telegraph

BIBB COUNTY, Ga. — Bibb County authorities, in a crackdown on alleged gangsters, their guns and their drugs, on Monday announced the arrests of or charges against 32 people said to be part of a network of street crime that, at least in part, was organized by suspects already behind bars.

Among the leaders of the alleged criminal enterprise — which also allegedly sought to influence witnesses and keep them from testifying in court — was Johntellis Mathis.

Officers confiscated $4,300 in ecstasy. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
Officers confiscated $4,300 in ecstasy. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Mathis, 31, was jailed last September after he was accused of shooting and wounding another man at a southside Waffle House. He is allegedly part of the Gangster Disciple-affiliated Blacc Team gang, which has been linked to a string of violent episodes, including a December 2014 triple killing at Wings Cafe in southwest Macon.

Bibb sheriff’s Lt. Cedric Penson, speaking after a Monday news conference to announce the results of Operation Blueprint, as the five-month investigation was dubbed, said Mathis used cellphones smuggled into the county jail to continue and further his gang’s dealings.

All told, cops seized a dozen guns, more than $21,000 cash, $4,300 in ecstasy and $22,500 worth of marijuana, District Attorney David Cooke said.

Mathis and others, driven by “greed, money (and) influence,” contacted associates in the free world to show them the ropes on how to run a criminal enterprise, in exchange for, Penson said, “a little bit of the proceeds.”

One man arrested in the sting, which began sometime in March, lived with his grandmother, who told authorities she couldn’t afford to pay her water bill. When cops searched her house, they found $18,000 cash stashed in her grandson’s bedroom.

Some of the cellphones used were smuggled into the jail in sneaker inside compartments sewn into the shoes and then worn into jail by people serving weekend sentences.

Sheriff David Davis said “unfortunately, some of our own employees” have on occasion brought contraband into the jail, and that officials are continuing to try to clamp down on ways items have secretly been taken in.

No deputies have been disciplined for actions related to this investigation.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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