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Prisoner sentenced for directing meth distribution from behind bars

A Georgia prison inmate and Sureños 13 gang member this week was sentenced to serve over

27 years in federal prison for his involvement in a large armed drug trafficking conspiracy directed out of jail facilities in Mexico and Georgia that is responsible for distributing more than 100 kilograms of methamphetamine.

David Zavala aka "Toro," 30, of Mexico, was sentenced to serve 330 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal on Oct. 16 after he previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

He is not eligible for parole.

"David Zavala was relentless in his efforts to direct a dangerous methamphetamine distribution network from behind bars, threatening both the safety of our communities and all those living and working in the prison with him," said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. "Law enforcement at every level is committed to dismantling these types of criminal organizations and helping us hold them accountable."

According to court documents, law enforcement officers in the Middle District of Georgia began investigating Zavala's drug trafficking organization in 2016, along with related criminal networks operating from jail facilities in Mexico and Georgia. On May 30, 2016, co-defendant Andrew Young was arrested in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, for possession of a stolen car out of McAllen, TX and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Agents discovered communications between Andrew Young and Zavala, a Georgia DOC inmate, detailing trips between McAllen, Texas, and Georgia that Young took at Zavala's behest to pick up methamphetamine and drop it at locations named by Zavala.

Zavala and co-defendant Bruce Hicks served as so-called "plugs" in the prison system, linking Mexican cartel drug distributors to customers and associates on the outside. Additional co-defendants linked to the conspiracy, including co-defendants Malcody Dinges, J.C. and T.O., were also Georgia DOC inmates at the time of the investigation. These inmates used social media and contraband cell phones to conduct and direct drug sales and move the drug proceeds to other members of the conspiracy.

While in custody, Zavala conducted methamphetamine transactions using contraband cell phones and social media platforms. Zavala would message his associates to direct and coordinate deliveries of methamphetamine to individuals and instruct others on how to make payments to him. In this case, Zavala is being held personally responsible for the distribution of between 15 and 30 kilograms of methamphetamine. The entire criminal network tied to him is responsible for distributing more than 100 kilograms of methamphetamine. Zavala is a confirmed Sureños 13 gang member and has been in Georgia DOC custody since 2012 for prior state convictions for armed robbery and false imprisonment. For more information about this case visit:

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1 Comment

Izzy Mendalbaum
Izzy Mendalbaum
Oct 18, 2023

Zavala deserves twice what he got. Don't these idiots know the penalties for moving this stuff? You get a new car and a gold chain if you win. You get life behind bars if you lose. This is second grade math, you idiots!

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