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Gulf Cartel conspirator sentenced on cocaine possession

ALBANY — Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced Nolberto Martinez, also known as “Negro”, 31, of Bronwood, was sentenced on Jan. 22 to serve 30 years (360 months) in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine and distribution of cocaine. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable W. Louis Sands, Senior United States District Court Judge, in Albany.

Martinez was convicted on Sept. 5, 2013, following a 20-day jury trial. Testimony at trial revealed that Martinez was a member of the Gulf Cartel that supplied cocaine to Middle Georgia. From 2007 to October 2011, Martinez was involved in a large-scale cocaine and crack cocaine distribution organization responsible for the distribution of over 500 kilograms of cocaine in Berrien, Colquitt, Dougherty, Tift, Lowndes, Terrell, Turner, Seminole, Ware, and Calhoun counties in Georgia. The cartel worked from Matamoros, Mexico, placing cocaine inside the hidden compartments of specially-equipped vehicles.

A number of additional members of the drug conspiracy have previously been sentenced.

Those include the following.

Carlos Johnson — life in prison; Kelvin Johnson — life in prison; Bobby Taylor—30 years (360 months) imprisonment; Gary Lockett — 21.8 years (262 months) imprisonment; Stuart Cole 15.6 years (188 months) imprisonment; William McKeithen — 15.6 years (188 months) imprisonment; Raymond Sutton — 14 years (168 months) imprisonment; Mark Cleveland Simpson — 13 years (160 months) imprisonment; T’Michael Jones 12.25 years (147 months) imprisonment; Casey Clemons — 10 years (120 months) imprisonment; Octavio Sandoval — 8.3 years (100 months) imprisonmen;t Antonio Wimbush — 7.25 years (87 months) imprisonment; James Willis — 6.7 years (80 months) imprisonment; Francisco Javier Arispe — 5.8 years (70 months) imprisonment; M. Nichole Sheffield — 4 years (48 months) imprisonment; Baldemar Chavero Leal —- 3.8 years (46 months) imprisonment; and W. Alvin Barge — 2 years (24 months) imprisonment.

Moore said, “We have seen an alarming increase in the distribution of drugs from Mexico to the Middle District of Georgia. With these drugs come violence and the devastation of untold numbers of lives. These organizations, whether you call them cartels or simply gangs, will find no safe haven in Middle Georgia. We will spare no effort or resource to make sure that we dismantle these drug distribution organizations. With the lengthy sentences for many of these defendants, we can all sleep a little better knowing that they will be off our streets for years to come.”

John S. Comer, the acting special agent in charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said of the sentencing, “DEA and its law enforcement counterparts orchestrated a well-planned and coordinated assault against this well-established Mexican-based drug cartel that was operating in the Middle District of Georgia. Mexican drug cartels are the source of so many dangerous drugs destined for our country and are responsible for much of the violence in Mexico today. Because of the unified effort between DEA and its law enforcement counterparts, this once-thriving organization will no longer be able to wreak havoc on our society.”

“The successful prosecution of these individuals is the result of commitment and hard work by the men and women working in local, state and federal law enforcement. The GBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners as we continue to identify and investigate individuals involved in drug trafficking in Georgia,” stated Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The case was investigated by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Bainbridge Department of Public Safety and Georgia State Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Leah E. McEwen prosecuted the case for the government.