Georgia prison inmate sentenced to 20 years after helping direct drug operation while behind bars

Jonathan Alvin Pope was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for operating drug ring while in prison.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A key defendant involved in a drug trafficking operation dating back to 2018 has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.


The Department of Justice said that Jonathan Alvin Pope, 39, Waycross, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin.

Pope was sentenced to 240 months and also ordered to serve three years of supervised release once his prison term ends.

“The sentencing of Jonathan Pope represents a key victory in the investigation and prosecution of a significant drug trafficking network distributing illegal narcotics in multiple south Georgia counties,” U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg for the Southern District of Georgia, said. “We applaud the outstanding work of the local, state and federal agencies who collaborated to dismantle this network and make our communities safer.”

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The indictment in Operation Pope’s G.O.A.L., an organized crime drug trafficking task force investigation, was unsealed in July 2022. The indictment charged 14 defendants involved in the drug trafficking operation. The Department of Justice said that these traffickers operated in Glynn, Brantley, Camden, Ware, Bacon, Pierce and Coffee counties, and beyond.

According to the Justice Department, all of the defendants have pled guilty to various charges related to the conspiracy, including:

  • Lena Leigh Davis, 46, of Homeland, Ga., who conducted drug transactions at Pope’s direction. She pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl, and is serving 135 months in federal prison.
  • Richard Reginald Perkins Jr., a/k/a “Reggie,” 47, of Nahunta, Ga., was sentenced to 168 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine.
  • Kristina Ashley Montgomery, a/k/a Kristina Ashley Crews, 38, of Hortense, Ga., conducted drug transactions as part of the operation. She is serving 126 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl.
  • Clark Bennett, 51, of Blackshear, Ga., is serving 60 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

“Poisonous drugs, such as methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin have taken a terrible toll on our communities,” Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration Atlanta Division said. “Drug trafficker Jonathan Pope must now deal with the consequences of his actions.”

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Georgia Department of Corrections commissioner Tyrone Oliver said that removing access to contraband cellphones and other tools within prisons is a challenge. Working with other agencies is of great importance in disrupting crime activities from inside and outside of state prison.

“Contraband cell phones in the hands of inmates as a tool to carry out crimes continues to be a challenge within correctional facilities across our state, and we are using every resource at our disposal to combat this issue. Our Agents work closely with our law enforcement partners each and every day in our common goal of public safety, and this case is another great example of that vital collaboration at every level,” continued Oliver. We are pleased to see justice being served on this individual for his role in jeopardizing the safe operations of our facilities and the safety of the public.”

—  GDC Commissioner Tyrone Oliver

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation.

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The Department of Justice said that this investigation was conducted by the Savannah Office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Georgia Department of Corrections Investigative Unit; the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office; the Ware County Sheriff’s Office; the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office; the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office; the Charlton County Sheriff’s Office; and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Georgia State Patrol, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank M. Pennington II and OCDETF Coordinator Marcela C. Mateo.

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