Drug bust in Jones County leads investigators to Atlanta

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GRAY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – 103 people have recently been arrested in Jones County for drug-related charges, and the sheriff’s office credits this accomplishment to a sting called “Operation Lone Ranger.”

“You want to get the head of the snake, and I believe we cut off the head of the snake in this investigation,” Investigator Barron Hall said. “We went from Atlanta, to Macon, to Jones.”

Investigators say they started working on a particular case in 2019 involving the distribution of heroin and meth around Jones County. This led them to begin “Operation Lone Ranger.”

Investigator Crystal Murphy helped start the operation and says hard work pays off.

“I mean if we had stopped here locally and just arrested those individuals, there would be someone to step in and fill that position and just continue to bring these controlled substances into the county,” Murphy said.

Sheriff Butch Reese believes this operation proved that Jones County has a drug problem like many other parts of the state, but more importantly, it allowed investigators to see a new issue on the rise.

“We have other ongoing investigations but, drugs are here,” Sheriff Reese explained. “We’re seeing one trend that’s really disturbing. More and more people are carrying weapons with these drugs, and I’m talking about the users carrying weapons.”

Investigator Barron Hall says he’s happy the team took more than $100,000 in cash, several illegal guns and multiple kilos of drugs off the streets.

“My heart’s got strings right now, and I’m just so happy to know that we took so many people off the street in this indictment,” Hall said. “It was just a lot of hard work and it’s amazing to see.”

Investigators dedicated this project to fallen Captain Jimmy Black, who died in December. Sheriff Reese says the operation was a nod at Black and Black’s hero.

“Investigator Jimmy Black died of cancer, and his hero was the Lone Ranger,” Reese said. “When our people were sitting in Atlanta by themselves, they felt like they were Lone Ranger.”

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Peyton Lewis is a 20-year-old reporter from Stockbridge, Georgia. She graduated in December of 2019 with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. She found a love for reporting after receiving a video camera for her 8th birthday. She and her friends would make mock newscasts in her backyard other creative content. Peyton's love for writing and creating videos pushed her to pursue journalism. In order to kick-start her dream of being a reporter, she left the traditional high school experience at the age of 16 to attend Gordon State College as a full-time student. She graduated with her Associate's degree two weeks before graduating from high school. Previously, Peyton worked as a news intern for 11 Alive in Atlanta, a radio intern for the Joy FM, and a reporter/ technical manager for Grady Newsource. Peyton dreams to become an investigative reporter that leaves a lasting impact on the world around her. She loves Disney, dogs, spicy food, musicals, and her family. Peyton also enjoys reading, watching movies, cheering on the Dawgs, and going on new adventures.