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Leader of Athens Bloods gang gets 20 years in federal pen for drug distribution, illegal machine gun

By Joe Johnson

The leader of the 1831 Piru Bloods gang in Athens this week was sentenced to serve 20 years in federal prison for the distribution of drugs and possession of a machine gun.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Peter D. Leary, 31-year-old Gregory Oneal “Big Homie” Wade Jr. headed the gang throughout 2020 and 2021 when the gang was engaged in numerous illegal acts involving drugs and firearms in the Athens area. The gang claimed as their territory two Sycamore Drive apartment complexes, The Flats and Regency Park, referred to by gang members as “The Trenches,” from where they sold guns and drugs.

According to court documents, Wade and his 1831 Piru associates were the subjects of a lengthy joint investigation into violent crime and fentanyl distribution in the Athens-Clarke County region named “Operation Tourniquet.” The 1831 Piru Bloods are a set of the nationally affiliated Piru street gang, which originated in the 1960s in Compton, CA.

As a result of “Operation Tourniquet,” agents executed a search warrant at Wade’s Jennings Mill Parkway apartment in July 2021. Wade attempted to evade arrest by leaping out of a third story window, but he was apprehended by a police K-9 unit. Inside the apartment, officers found almost a kilogram of fentanyl, approximately 90 grams of cocaine and over eight pounds of marijuana. In Wade’s bedroom dresser officers found a Glock 19 with an auto sear switch, a mechanism that converts a semiautomatic handgun into a fully automatic machine gun. In the same drawer, a 30-round extended magazine and a 50-round drum magazine was recovered. Wade admitted that he kept the machine gun as protection. Officers found additional firearms, a “kilo press” used to compress illegal drugs for distribution.

Glock pistol with a 50-round drum magazine

Wade admitted to buying and selling large quantities of fentanyl and other drugs for distribution in the Athens community.

Prior to his sentencing on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Athens, Wade pleaded guilty to one count each of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and cocaine, and possession of an illegal machine gun.

“Fentanyl, Glock switches and gangs is a particularly deadly combination and one which has no place on the streets of Athens,” Leary said in a released statement. “Operation Tourniquet’s success is the result of the excellent partnership between many law enforcement agencies focused on reducing violent crime and the spread of fentanyl.”

Wade’s arrest and prosecution were part of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operation, which identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level criminal organizations that threaten communities nationwide.

This case was investigated by the FBI Athens Middle Georgia Safe Streets Gang Task Force, the GBI Gang Unit, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department Gang Unit, the Northeast Georgia Regional Drug Task Force, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Department of Corrections.

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