A gang member and leader in a major methamphetamine trafficking operation and a codefendant each have been sentenced to more than 20 years in federal prison for spreading drugs into coastal and south Georgia.
David Hamilton Sharpe, a/k/a “David Dukkedoff,” 28, of Pembroke, was sentenced to 292 months in federal prison, and Jose Zepeda, 36, of Gray, Ga., was sentenced to 235 months in prison, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Both men pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute More than 50 Grams of Methamphetamine, and U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker also recommended that Sharpe serve his sentence outside the Southern District, and ordered each defendant to serve five years of supervised release after completion of their prison terms.
There is no parole in the federal system.
“Violent, armed drug traffickers and criminal gang members are a clear and present danger to our communities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “We continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make our streets safer by identifying these criminals and holding them accountable.”
Sharpe and Zepeda were among 35 defendants indicted as part of Operation Stranded Bandit, as described in the indictment unsealed in December 2020 in USA v. Baker et al. Sharpe, a member of the Ghost Face Gangsters criminal street gang, was incarcerated in state prison during the three years of the investigation and used contraband cell phones to direct shipments of methamphetamine from the Atlanta area and into the Southern District. During a search of his residence in October 2019, just one month after his release from state prison, Sharpe was arrested after agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found him in possession of a large quantity of methamphetamine and multiple firearms. The arrest took place in Bryan County, from which Sharpe previously had been judicially banished.
Zepeda was arrested in Jones County, Ga., along with other members of the conspiracy in June 2019 as he was delivering four pounds of methamphetamine.
Operation Stranded Bandit grew from other major gang-related drug trafficking prosecutions in Operation Vanilla Gorilla and Operation Who’s Laughing Now. The investigations and prosecutions, coordinated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), targeted widespread, gang-related drug trafficking organizations in the Southern District and beyond.
Of the 35 defendants charged in Operation Stranded Bandit, at least 26 have entered guilty pleas with 17 of them sentenced to prison terms of up to 292 months, while nine are awaiting trail and are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.