SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A convicted murderer serving a life sentence has been convicted of leading a major drug trafficking conspiracy from inside a Georgia state prison.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia says Eugene Allen, aka “Poncho,” was convicted Thursday of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and marijuana.
Allen was one of 22 defendants indicted in August 2017 as part of a drug trafficking organization that hid cash proceeds from drug sales in cotton candy machines.
“Not only were nearly 80 pounds of marijuana and almost three kilograms of cocaine seized in two days out of the entire investigation, two days alone brought that much, that the government was able to seize as well as nearly $400,000 in cash and seven guns," Special Assistant U.S. District Attorney Noah Abrams said. "So, at least all of those items are off the streets, which demonstrates the danger that the individuals posed.”
The drug trafficking organization Allen headed up as the leader of the Gangster Disciples Street Gang was able to move the money from drug sales in cotton candy machines and vehicles with hidden compartments - all while Allen was behind bars.
“I can tell you, in this case, it happened because he was able to smuggle phones into the prison, and because he maintained those relationships with others who were willing to commit crimes outside of the prison," Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Pennington said.
An FBI Violent Crimes Task Force initially got intelligence on Allen, and that’s what kicked off the investigation that not only netted Allen, but nearly two-dozen others in a federal indictment. It’s an investigation that not only involved the feds, also local agencies like the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team.
“The cooperation we had from all of our federal partners and local police officers was amazing,” CNT Director Everett Ragan said. "These individuals, they were shipping in, shipping in, shipping in cocaine, marijuana, and it was a huge organization.”
Allen’s federal sentence has yet to be determined, but prosecutors are asking the Bureau of Prisons that wherever he ends up, that it be as far away from the Southern District of Georgia as possible.
“As long as he’s here in the state of Georgia, as long as he’s nearby this community, apparently he’s going to at least make some attempt to continue to commit crimes here," Pennington said.
Pennington says a case like this, with the resolution that it got, means greater safety for our community.
Karteau Omar Jenkins was also found guilty in federal court Thursday, on two counts of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana.