Two methamphetamine organizations the operated throughout southeast Georgia, including Bulloch County, have been dismantled, authorities said Thursday.
The Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team, or CNT, announced several arrests and dismantling of the organizations, which had been operating throughout Chatham, Bryan, Effingham and Bulloch counties.
In 2011, CNT began investigating several members of the Basham family following complaints of suspected drug activity resulting in the arrests of a husband and wife, CNT Director Everette Ragan said in a news release.
Thomas Randall Basham, 36, and Melodie Jaclyn Basham, 26, both of Pembroke, were arrested in Bryan County by CNT in December 2011 following the seizure of a meth lab, Ragan said. They were each charged with manufacturing meth by CNT. The Richmond Hill Police Department also charged them each with meth-related offenses in a separate investigation.
In February 2013, Thomas Basham’s brother Roger Basham, 33, of Pembroke, and Hope Mitchell, age and address unlisted, were both arrested by Richmond Hill police following the seizure of a meth lab in Richmond Hill. They were each charged with manufacturing meth.
In March, Thomas Basham – while out on bond for the CNT arrest in 2011 – was again arrested, this time by the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office. He and Marcus Lee Lindsey, 31, address unlisted, were charged with unlawful possession of pseudoephedrine, a precursor for meth, which they obtained in Chatham County, Ragan said.
Following those arrests and knowing manufacturing meth often includes several people, CNT focused its investigation on what it calls the Bashams’ “criminal empire” rather than the individual persons arrested in the separate incidents, Ragan said.
That led CNT investigators to family members and associates, who Ragan said were conspiring to purchase large amounts of pseudoephedrine and other items needed for the manufacturing of meth.
During the conspiracy investigation, CNT learned the organization made or tried to make more than 236 purchases of pseudoephedrine in 17 months. In some cases, Ragan said, the attempted purchases were denied because of state and federal laws restricting the amount of pseudoephedrine a person can purchase within a month. The purchases were made in 12 counties in Georgia and two counties in South Carolina.
Based on the known amount of the weight of purchased pseudoephedrine alone, it’s estimated the organization had produced more than 14 ounces of meth and 200 meth labs, Ragan said.
That produced meth would have an estimated street value of as much as $40,000, he said.
On March 26, CNT began a separate meth investigation following the discovery of a discarded meth lab on Cuyler Road in Ellabell. During that investigation, CNT found components of the meth lab were purchased or obtained in Chatham County.
Ragan said CNT identified a total of four people connected to the meth lab: Christopher Thomas Davis, 29, of Guyton; Heather Nicole Dunn, 22, of Pooler; Kimberly Marie Carney, 28, of Savannah; and Lisa Renee Williams, 33, of Savannah.
Persons manufacturing meth often discard the finished lab by simply throwing it into a wooded area or by leaving it on a roadway, Ragan said. This, he said, is extremely dangerous to the general public because someone who finds the discarded lab could be seriously injured from the fumes and chemicals.
On May 22, a total of 10 people in the Basham organization and all four people in the discarded meth lab incident were indicted in Chatham County Superior Court. All persons were indicted on felony meth-related charges, including conspiracy or attempt to violate the Georgia Controlled Substance Act, trafficking meth and possession of pseudoephedrine with the intent to manufacture meth.
Early Wednesday morning, CNT in a working partnership with the sheriff’s offices in Chatham, Bryan and Bulloch counties and the Tri-Circuit Counter Drug Task Force, executed several arrest warrants and one search warrant throughout those counties. A total of 10 people were arrested.
The search warrant in the 4100 block of Bacontown Road in Pembroke resulted in the arrests of several of the wanted persons, seizure of meth and items commonly used in the manufacturing of meth, Ragan said.
Of the 10 people arrested Wednesday, Davis, Dunn and Mitchell were already in custody in the Bryan County Detention Center on meth-related charges. Roger Basham turned himself in Thursday at the Bryan County Detention Center.
Capt. Rick Rountree of the Bulloch County Drug Suppression Team, which is part of the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, said David Allen Barnard, 46, of Pembroke, was arrested in Bryan County, and Betty Deckard, 42, of Brooklet, was arrested in Brooklet. Both were arrested Thursday and taken to the Chatham County jail on charges of conspiracy/attempt to violate the Georgia Controlled Substance Act and trafficking meth.
Also arrested, according to CNT, was Sharon Mulkey Basham, 62, of Pembroke.
CNT is seeking the public’s assistance finding two others in connection with this investigation. Dustin Clemons, 34, is described as a white male, 6 feet 1 inch, 215 pounds, with brown eyes and short cut black hair. Tami Jo Hill, 52, is described as a white female, 5 feet 10 inches, 170 pounds, with green eyes and blonde hair.
“This is CNT following through on its promise to the community to conduct long-term investigations, thus identifying all persons involved and dismantling the entire organization,” Ragan said.