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Sunday May 24th, 2015 1:18AM

Sheriff discusses multi-million-dollar racketeering ring

By Rob Moore Reporter
HOMER - Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed is speaking out about Wednesday night's announcement of the arrests of nine people accused of running "an elaborate multi-million-dollar money laundering and drug-trafficking operation" in Maysville.<br /> <br /> Each of those arrested already has been indicted on eight counts of violation the Georgia Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act.<br /> <br /> The alleged offenses involve the sale and distribution of prescription medication and money laundering in the north Georgia region, with those arrested and indicted coming from across the area - including Banks, Jackson, White, Stephens and Hall counties.<br /> <br /> Sheriff's officials suspect the ring has been operating in the area for several years, with Brian William Craig of Maysville the alleged ringleader.<br /> <br /> Craig currently is serving a 12-year sentence with the Georgia Department of Corrections for drug violations in Hall County, sheriff's officials said. <br /> <br /> Craig began that sentence on previous charges since the initial search that led to the arrests in this case, Speed said.<br /> <br /> Speed offered some insight into the length of the investigation.<br /> <br /> "Agents of the Appalachian Drug Task Force and deputies from Banks County Sheriff's Office conducted a search warrant at the home of Brian and Amanda Craig on Jan. 9 of this year," Speed said. "Several pieces of valuable evidence and proceeds of the crimes were seized, leaving the investigators to follow a long and exhausting paper trail ever since."<br /> <br /> Contacted by AccessNorthGa.com following that search in January, sheriff's officials declined at the time to release details due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.<br /> <br /> Speed said Thursday the search warrant yielded evidence of a "doctor shopping" or prescription pill operation.<br /> <br /> He said those indicted were going to different doctors with complaints then getting prescription pills and bringing them to Brian Craig in Maysville for distribution.<br /> <br /> "The investigators involved have conducted multiple search warrants on doctor offices over the past several months," Speed said. "Numerous people have been interviewed, and a lot of time has gone into the investigation in regards to tracking the evidence against those involved." <br /> <br /> Speed said the investigation so far revealed those involved visited a minimum of 49 doctors, noting the investigation is ongoing.<br /> <br /> "We're talking approximately 30,000 oxycodone pills," Speed said. <br /> <br /> The oxycodone and other types of pills had a street value of $730,000 - just over the past 15 months, Speed said. He added officers believe the operation has been ongoing for two years or longer.<br /> <br /> Speed said the doctors are not at fault because they were not aware of the operation.<br /> <br /> "It was a large operation," Speed said. "Some thought had been put into the organization."<br /> <br /> Speed said the Piedmont Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office and agents of the Appalachian Drug Task Force presented the facts of the case to the Banks County Grand Jury late last month. The grand jury indicted each of the individuals on eight counts of violating the Georgia RICO Act.<br /> <br /> Banks County deputies and task force agents served bench warrants from the Piedmont Circuit Superior Court to arrest those indicted.<br /> <br /> "This has been a great example of the reasoning behind us joining a GBI-commanded drug task force," Speed said. "They have the expertise and resources that an agency of our size cannot afford on our own." <br /> <br /> Those indicted so far include:<br /> <br /> * Alford Quinton Childs of Nicholson; <br /> <br /> * John David Clark of Cleveland;<br /> <br /> * Brian William Craig of Maysville;<br /> <br /> * Maggie Jeanette Craig of Homer;<br /> <br /> * Amanda Elaine Craig of Maysville;<br /> <br /> * Anthony Shane Crumley of Maysville;<br /> <br /> * Robert Joseph Fields of Lula; <br /> <br /> * Justin David Hollis of Toccoa; and<br /> <br /> * Devon Caine Ledford of Commerce.<br /> <br /> Bond for each was set at $20,000, and all are out of jail as of Thursday, Speed said.<br /> <br /> Speed added the investigation is ongoing and that officers still are following some leads.<br /> <br /> Seized during the operation were numerous vehicles, ATVs and personal property.<br /> <br /> Vehicles seized so far include: a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro convertible, a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Duramax Diesel truck which contained more than $10,000 in cash, a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, a 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Super Sport convertible, 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe, 1998 Chevrolet Corvette, 1996 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup, 1995 Chevrolet Z71 pickup, 1995 Chevrolet Corvette, 1986 Chevrolet K10 pickup, eight four-wheelers, two trailers and a commercial-style mower. <br /> <br /> All that property was seized from the same Maysville residence, Speed said.
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