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Two defendants from Athens plead guilty in federal drug trafficking case

A large amount of seized fentanyl is displayed in this stock phograph

From the U.S. Department of Justice:

Two co-defendants pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and one defendant was sentenced to prison today resulting from separate investigations into the distribution of large amounts of fentanyl in the Athens and Milledgeville communities.

James Hill, 41, of Athens, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl and faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to a maximum sentence of life in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release and a maximum $10,000,000 fine. Co-defendant Jasmine Jackson, 29, of Athens, pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a maximum $1,000,000 fine. Both defendants entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Tilman E. “Tripp” Self, III on Dec. 14 in Case No. 3:22-CR-25. Sentencing is scheduled for March 21, 2024, at the U.S. Courthouse in Athens.

Brandon Ector aka “Big,” 39, of Atlanta was sentenced to serve 150 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release by Chief U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell on Dec. 14 after he previously pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in Case No. 5:22-CR-40. Ector is not eligible for parole.

“Stopping armed fentanyl trafficking and holding those associated with its distribution accountable is a top priority for our office and our law enforcement partners across the Middle District of Georgia,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Thanks to the efforts of many law enforcement agencies in both investigations, nearly four kilograms of fentanyl was prevented from circulating in the Athens and Milledgeville communities. Law enforcement is facing unprecedented challenges, and I am grateful for their dedication to protecting our citizens.”

“The success of these investigations demonstrates DEA will use all of its resources to destroy drug distribution networks that are endangering our communities,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Division.

According to court documents in the Hill and Jackson case, a confidential informant working with the Northeast Georgia Regional Drug Task Force provided information that Hill was mixing fentanyl into heroin and selling it inside his Athens apartment located on Chateau Terrace that he shared with his girlfriend, co-defendant Jackson. A search warrant was executed at the apartment on Nov. 11, 2021, and agents found two plastic bags later confirmed to contain heroin and fentanyl in one and fentanyl in the other. In a kitchen cabinet, investigators located a small laboratory with mixing containers, measuring utensils, Acetone and a mixer, which they suspected Hill was using to mix the narcotics he was distributing. Investigators located additional, but smaller, quantities of drugs in Hill’s automobiles. Another search warrant was executed on the same day at the Sleep Inn and Suites in Athens, where Hill was using rooms to store and distribute narcotics. Agents seized 1.3 kilograms of fentanyl, two pistols, $33,525 cash, approximately 70 grams of heroin and 27.8 grams of methamphetamine.

According to court documents in the Ector case, law enforcement agents with the DEA Macon Resident Office, GBI and Ocmulgee Drug Task Force received credible information from multiple confidential sources regarding illegal drug activities occurring in the Milledgeville area in July 2020. Co-defendant Damon Hayes aka “D-5” was identified as a multi-kilogram distributor of methamphetamine, powder cocaine and crack cocaine operating in Milledgeville. Ector was a member of Hayes’ drug trafficking organization. Through surveillance, agents observed Hayes acquire bulk quantities of narcotics from co-defendant Lagary Williams aka “Frog” at his luxury high-rise apartment in downtown Atlanta, where Ector resided. On Sept. 10, 2021, a federal search warrant was executed at Williams’ Atlanta apartment. Both Williams and Ector attempted to flee law enforcement by jumping from the apartment’s balcony. Ector broke a bone from the jump. Agents recovered 2.5 kilograms of fentanyl in the apartment, as well as one kilogram of methamphetamine, two kilograms of cocaine, approximately 50 grams of cocaine base, approximately seven pounds of marijuana, a Glock 19 9mm pistol and a Ruger model 57 handgun. For more information about this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation and the other co-defendants in this case, please visit


The Hill and Jackson case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Northeast Georgia Regional Drug Task Force and the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Morrison is prosecuting the case for the Government.


The Ector case was investigated by DEA, GBI, the Ocmulgee Drug Task Force, the Baldwin County Sherriff’s Office, the Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office, the Jones County Sheriff’s Office, the Atlanta-Carolina’s HIDTA Office and the Gwinnett Metro Task Force. Deputy Criminal Chief Will Keyes prosecuted the case for the Government. Former Middle District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Kalim previously prosecuted the case.


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I’m sure they caused a lot of deaths, sorrow and anguish for a lot of families.

Not enough of a sentence.


Thank GOODNESS it's the Feds! Because if our district attorney had her way, this probably wouldn't even have been brought to trial. They would have been allowed to plea bargain down to littering.


Bloodsuckers. 10 years is not enough.

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