Moultrie Observer

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December 21, 2006

Drug probe nets almost $1 million

TIFTON — Tift County authorities believe they have broken up the biggest cocaine ring in the county and seized the largest amount of cash in the county’s history.

Almost $1 million in cash was recovered by the Tift County Sheriff’s Office during an investigation that led to the arrest of three men Tuesday on drug charges. The three men, Anthony Sean Walker, 33, of Omega; Leonard Earnest Royster, 47, of Tifton; and Michael Sherrod Kinsey, 23, of Norman Park, were each charged with conspiracy to traffic in cocaine.

When asked if the three suspects were “drug kingpins,” Tift County Sheriff Gary Vowell said they were “nothing short of that.”

“The investigation focused on a large-scale cocaine distribution ring centered here in Tifton and Tift County,” Vowell said Thursday. “During the course of the investigation, agents seized four kilograms of cocaine, over $949,000 in U.S. currency, 11 automobiles, two all-terrain vehicles, several firearms and a large assortment of electronic equipment. All of this property was either used during the distribution of illegal narcotics or was purchased with the proceeds of such transactions.”

Vowell said the cash totaling over $949,000 was the largest cash seizure in the history of the sheriff’s office.

“That was a pretty pile of cash, let me tell you,” he said.

Of the cash, he said $828,000 was seized at one time from an unnamed courier on his way to purchase 50 kilograms of cocaine. The sheriff said authorities in other states are working to arrest the sources of the cocaine and that he would inform the public if further arrests are made in the case.

Vowell said that although the arrests will not completely eradicate the cocaine trade in Tift County, “It’ll slow it down considerably.”

“The movement of cocaine by the kilo in Tift County has been dealt a severe blow,” he said.

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