A Georgia man admitted his role as the ringleader of a large-scale drug trafficking operation responsible for producing and distributing up to 200,000 pills every month at the operation’s peak. Four out of his five co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty to similar crimes.
Walker Forrester, a 25-year-old from Loganville, Georgia, pleaded guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute and to the Distribution of Controlled Carfentanil, Alprazolam, and Marijuana. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby L. Christine announced the guilty plea on December 10, 2019. Forrester's plea is the final plea in the United States' case against the Georgia drug trafficking operation.
This drug trafficking conspiracy distributed massive amounts of dangerous illegal drugs, including deadly synthetic opioids, throughout the streets of Georgia and through the Dark Web. Our federal, state and local law enforcement agencies did outstanding work in investigating and shutting down these merchants of misery and bringing them to justice, where substantial federal prison terms await.
According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Augusta, Forrester ran a darkweb drug production and distribution operation from 2016 until his arrest in November 2017. Forrester and five co-conspirators used industrial pill presses to produce counterfeit Xanax pills. They sold tens of thousands of pills every month and as their operation grew, they sold as many as 200,000 pills per month, bringing in roughly $18,000 every month.
Per the press release announcing the guilty pleas of Forrester’s co-conspirators:
In addition to pill presses, investigators allege Forrester also purchased punch dies used to create counterfeit Xanax pills, Alprazolam as the main ingredient, and binding agents to manufacture tens of thousands of pills per month. The illicit ingredients were purchased on the Dark Web using cryptocurrency, with the counterfeit Xanax likewise sold on the Dark Web or through conventional illegal drug distribution channels.
The conspirators moved the four pill presses to various locations in the Southern, Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia to avoid detection, and at one point began manufacturing and selling synthetic heroin using Fentanyl and the more-powerful Carfentanil.
The DEA investigation into Forrester began in September 2017 when they learned he had imported another industrial pill press. Harlem, Georgia, police officers conducted a traffic stop two months later and arrested Forrester and a co-conspirator for possession of more than 5,000 Xanax pills as well as possession of a SBS without a tax stamp.
Forrester, Kolbie Watters, Jonathan Lester, Armand Saedi, Larry Overton, and Morgan Slaton caught charges in connection with the conspiracy.
Forrester pleaded guilty to the possession with intent to distribute charges and the distribution charges listed in the first paragraph. His co-conspirators pleaded guilty to the following charges:
- Watters: Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Controlled Substances, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime;
- Lester: Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Controlled Substances (Carfentanil, Alprazolam and marijuana);
- Saedi: Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Controlled Substances (Alprazolam); and,
- Slaton: Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (Alprazolam).
- Overton’s case is still pending.
Watters and Lester are still facing the homicide charges described in this article. According to the State of Georgia, Watters and Lester had murdered 25-year-old Chase Loffler, a former co-conspirator, and buried him in a shallow grave in Loganville. The investigation into the homicide involved the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, DEA, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and Secret Service. The investigation into the drug distribution ring involved even more law enforcement agencies as a part of the OCDETF.
The list of involved agencies included the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command (CID), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Harlem Department of Public Safety.