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Savannah > Massive Meth Ring Run from Prison

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Florida Times Union

SAVANNAH — Described as a high-ranking leader of a 3,000-member white supremacist prison gang, Christopher Henry has spent the last three years inside Wilcox State Prison.

But 36-year-old Henry’s imprisonment inside the medium security facility within the city limits of tiny Abbeville, has done little to hinder his ability to run a large-scale drug operation outside the prison system.

All it really took, said Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team Director Everette Ragan, was an illegal cellphone, a web of criminals and a dedicated wife.

In October 2013, the narcotics team and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration began an investigation into the distribution of crystal methamphetamine within Chatham County. The investigation quickly took agents outside of Coastal Georgia, Ragan said.

Eighteen months after the initial investigation — dubbed Operation Fire and Ice — began, nearly 50 people from across the state have been indicted on drug conspiracy charges, and Henry’s meth ring has been dismantled.

“This ranks as probably one of the very best methamphetamine investigations we’ve had,” Ragan said Wednesday during a news conference at the counter narcotics team’s Headquarters.

“This operation is a great example of how [Counter Narcotics Team] protects the citizens of Chatham County and how [Counter Narcotics Team] has the ability to see an investigation from beginning to end, even going beyond the borders of Chatham County.

Ragan’s agents not only infiltrated the drug organization, but also tailed distributors to metro Atlanta and eventually conducted undercover purchases of the synthetic narcotics.

Continued investigation through a partnership with more than a dozen local, state and federal law enforcement agencies revealed the connection to Henry, his wife Regina Henry and other members of the Ghost Face Gangsters, a gang of white supremacists mostly in southeastern U.S. prisons and jails affiliated with the Aryan Brotherhood and known for using violent tactics and distributing methamphetamine, Ragan said.

Henry is serving a 20-year sentence for aggravated assault in Newton County, his third state prison sentence since 2005.

Over the course of the investigation Counter Narcotics Team agents with partner agencies executed search warrants in Chatham, Effingham, Henry, DeKalb and Newton counties and seized about $100,000 worth of crystal meth, nearly $24,000 in cash, 38 firearms and a car. Nearly all of the guns were in possession of a convicted felon, CNT spokesman Gene Harley said.

On April 15, the Chatham County Grand Jury indicted Christopher and Regina Henry and 46 others associated with their meth operation on charges of attempt/conspiracy to violate the Georgia Controlled Substance Act, trafficking methamphetamine, sale of a controlled substance, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and hindering apprehension.

Six of the people who were indicted remain at large and are believed to be in the Coastal Georgia area, Ragan said. They are David Cary, Deborah Hall, Lisa Michelle Davis, Jessica Kight, Ashleigh Craig and Dennis Rauch.

Of those indicted, 32 had previous felony convictions, Harley said, adding that 29 had prior arrests in Chatham County.

Those indicted could face additional charges, including charges under the state’s gang statute.

At least one of the suspects has already pleaded guilty, Ragan said.

Zachary Hughes, a mid-level dealer officials said was connected to Regina Henry, agreed to a 25-year prison sentence with 10 years to serve. He had no prior criminal record, Ragan added.

Others indicted in Chatham County face prosecution in other parts of the state. Regina Henry is being held in the Newton County jail on racketeering charges related to Ghost Face Gangster activity including meth distribution and conspiracy to commit murder.

Ragan said he has concerns the operation could pick back up inside the state’s prisons. He said law enforcement officials were working hand-in-hand with the Georgia Department of Corrections to keep drugs and phones out of prisons.

“Phones in prison is a very common thing,” he said. “Drug sales being worked and negotiated … out of prison was very common in this case. So we still have our partners taking a lead in that part of investigation.

“This is a continuing investigation that we’re working very hard on to keep our citizens safe and keep these drugs and weapons out of our community.”