A major drug trafficking organization officers say distributed more than $3.5 million of methamphetamine in North Georgia over the past five months has been brought down.
Federal, state and local officers served 10 search warrants and 14 arrest warrants for members and suppliers of Larry “Lil Man” Fricks’ drug organization, according to the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office (ARDEO).
“We’ve investigated the Larry Fricks drug trafficking organization for the last five months,” said ARDEO Special Agent in Charge Mitchell Posey. “We utilized every investigative tool available to us – all of which were proactive in nature – so that we not only could determine the extent of or the amount of drugs that Larry Fricks was distributing in North Georgia, but the people that were in his organization that were helping him.”
Interestingly, the man said to be at the helm of the trafficking organization did not handle the drugs.
“The unique thing that we learned about Larry Fricks is that he generally did not actually physically touch any of the methamphetamine,” Posey said. “He would have plenty of people that worked for him that were able to do all this for him. He felt as though he was insulated and luckily through our investigation, through the proactive investigative techniques, we’re going to prove him wrong.”
Officials credit interagency cooperation and information sharing with the success of the investigation.
“What we learned is that Fricks and his organization, which included about 15 other people that we arrested today for RICO [Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization] charges is that they were distributing anywhere from 10 to 20 kilograms of methamphetamine in North Georgia a week,” Posey said. “That’s a lot of methamphetamine for the small communities of North Georgia, and of course we feel like the methamphetamine was spreading to many, many different counties in North Georgia,” Posey said. “Today, we executed 10 search warrants in Lumpkin County, White County, Banks County, Jackson County, Hall County and Barrow County, because all these residents were tied to the Fricks organization and we felt that they had fruits of the poisonous tree, so to speak – either the product of methamphetamine itself in the house or assets derived from the product.”
Friday’s efforts yielded nine pounds of methamphetamine, about $13,000, a “fairly large amount of firearms” and various vehicles that were used to facilitate the methamphetamine trafficking organization, according to Posey.
Broken down to ounces, the street value of the nine pounds of methamphetamine is about $144,000, but that’s not how most meth is purchased.
“The thing I want the public to understand is not everyone buys ounces,” Posey said. “Eventually the product is broken down to its lowest level. A lot of people buy methamphetamine by the gram just because it’s more affordable.”
The sale of methamphetamine by the gram translates to at least $2.5 million in street value for the nine pounds recovered.
Those arrested Friday include:
- Larry “Little Man” Dwayne Fricks, 27, of East Hall Road, Gainesville;
- Michael Douglas Gribble, 42, of King Street, Commerce;
- Stephanie Mae Pritchett, 38, of Scott Drive, Winder;
- Chelsea Mangum Fricks, 28, of East Hall Road, Gainesville;
- Brandon Dwight Wood, 37, of Hale Road, Maysville;
- Dwayne Eldon Fricks, 52, of Carson Segars Road, Maysville;
- James Christopher Hood, 34, of White Sulphur Road, Gainesville;
- Walter Cecil Whitehead IV, 45, of Todd Road, Braselton;
- Jared Cody Eller, 26, of Hogan Road, Cleveland;
- Timothy “Freebird” Freeman, 59, of Woodsmill Road, Gainesville;
- Matthew Lee Gerrin, 31, of Welborn Road, Gillsville;
- Marty “Go Hard” Thomas of Hancock State Prison;
- Gary “Red” Loyd Brown, 56, of Melody Lane, Dahlonega; and
- William Dale Gray, 47, of Homer Road, Commerce.
“We feel like this is going to have a significant impact for North Georgia,” Posey said. “Methamphetamine is a deadly drug. It’s a drug that destroys not only the users’ lives, but every loved one of the user and it’s just something that we have to continue to address on a continuous basis.”
Over the course of the five-month investigation, the Banks and Jackson County sheriff’s offices, the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office (ARDEO), along with the cooperation of the Piedmont Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office and the FBI’s North Georgia Major Offender Task Force, worked together to bring about Friday’s coordinated efforts to bring down the trafficking organization, according to Posey.
“Multiple criminal charges will be brought against these persons under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute,” according to Posey, who said Fricks and his organization have been active in Banks, Hall, and Jackson County and surrounding communities for many years.
“This investigation indicates that the Fricks drug trafficking organization is responsible in five short months for the distribution of more than 100 kilograms of methamphetamine with a street value of $3.5 million,” according to Posey.
All member agencies of ARDEO provided resources to the investigation and were assisted by sheriffs’ offices in Barrow and Hall counties, Commerce Police Department and the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Officers continue to seek Rickie Nation, 59, of Carson Segars Road, Maysville.
“We also know he frequented Hall County as well,” Posey said.
Anyone with information on Nation’s whereabouts is asked to call their local police department or sheriff’s office, or ARDEO at (706) 348-7410.
The Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office is a multi-agency unit that consists of the following Sheriff’s Offices: White County, Lumpkin County, Towns County, Banks County, Jackson County, Habersham County, Stephens County, Rabun County, Franklin County the Cleveland Police Department, the Lavonia Police Department, and the Toccoa Police Department, along with the Georgia National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, the Department of Public Safety, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.