Fallout from large-scale drug ring bust in Glynn County continues with another sentenced to prison

Rachael Byrd, aka 'Byrd is the Word', was sentenced to 324 months in federal prison for drug trafficking conspiracy.

BRUNSWICK, GA. — A 26-year-old woman part of a drug trafficking conspiracy that involved 76 defendants has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term.


Rachael P. Byrd, nicknamed “Byrd is the Word”, Waverly, Ga., was sentenced to almost 30 years in federal prison, the Department of Justice said Monday.

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Byrd was said to be a large-scale meth trafficker and also worked with a corrupt guard to smuggle drugs into prison.

“Rachael Byrd provided a pipeline from an Atlanta methamphetamine supplier to a corrupt prison guard, and to the conspiracy’s leader inside prison walls,” U.S. Attorney Jill Steinberg said. “She fueled meth addiction in communities throughout south Georgia, and this substantial sentence holds her accountable.”

Action News Jax told you in January that Byrd was part of an extensive drug ring investigation dubbed Operation Ghost Busted. As part of the multi-agency operation, a total of 76 defendants were indicted on charges that included conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute.

Related Story: ‘Operation Ghost Busted:’ 2 people still wanted in Southeast Georgia drug trafficking bust, FBI says

Much of the activity was coordinated from inside Georgia Department of Corrections prisons to the outside, David Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia said.

In a statement by the Department of Justice, the drug trafficking conspiracy was linked to the white supremacist Ghost Face Gangsters that distributed large amounts of high-grade methamphetamine, along with fentanyl, heroin, and alprazolam (Xanax) in Glynn County.

Byrd was described as a leader in the drug organization. Her role was said to involve transporting kilos of meth from Atlanta to distribute to street-level drug dealers in south Georgia. It is said she was the link to her boyfriend, James D. NeSmith, 26, an inmate serving a life sentence for murder in Telfair State Prison.

Read: Million-dollar drug bust exposes overdose problem in Jacksonville and the toll it takes on families

“Byrd helped to lead a major drug trafficking organization that was responsible for plaguing the streets of our communities with drugs and crime, and she learned the fate for her corruptions,” Will Clarke, Senior Supervisory Resident Agent of FBI Atlanta’s Brunswick Office said. “This significant sentence is the result of the hard work and coordination of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners working to bring illegal drug trafficking to an end in Georgia.”

So far, almost 70 of the 76 defendants have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing in U.S. District Court.

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Some of the agencies involved in Operation Ghost Busted include FBI Coastal Georgia Violent Gang Task Force, the Glynn County Police Department, the Brunswick Police Department, the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office, and the Camden County Sheriff’s Office. Multiple federal, state, and local agencies were also involved in bringing down the drug organization.

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