ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement on social media today reporting a single traffic stop. A normal traffic stop is nothing of import except that this stop resulted in the seizure of 1.69 pounds of methamphetamine.
For reference, federal guidelines referencing the United States Sentencing Commission dictate a minimum sentence of 10 years for trafficking in 50 grams of Meth. According to the Sheriff’s report, the driver of the vehicle, Ethan Matthew Leonard, 17, and passenger, Anthony Stephen Ray, 20, were in possession of over 15 times that amount.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, “Corporal F. Parks initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle for failure to maintain lane and a window tint violation. Upon contact with the occupants in the car, Corporal Parks determined the driver was under the influence of marijuana.”
The United States Department of Justice states that Crystal Methamphetamine is a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs, which include cocaine and PCP, have a high potential for abuse. Gilmer Sheriff Stacy Nicholson has also offered reports on the influx of and arrests made in relation to large amounts of drugs in the county. In July of 2021, he delivered a report to the media indicating a number of arrests made in the first half of the year.
Going from what information the Sheriff’s Office delivered in those arrests, only one comes close. A July 19, 2021, arrest for 628 grams (1.38 pounds) of Meth.
With this arrest, it becomes the largest amount out of those released to the public. The Sheriff’s Office stated that when Parks questioned the two in the vehicle, both occupants had conflicting stories and timelines of their travels.
The office stated, “The passenger provided Corporal Parks with a THC oil vape which gave probable cause to search the vehicle. During the search, approximately 763 grams (1.69 pounds) of methamphetamine was located under the back seat.”
Arrested on September 9, 2021, Ethan Matthew Leonard and Anthony Stephen Ray, both from Franklin, North Carolina, were arrested and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute, Trafficking Methamphetamine, Possession of Schedule 1 Drug (THC oil), and Georgia window tint violation.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Recent highlights have shown major steps in our county by the Sheriff’s Office and cooperating agencies and agents with cases like the recent arrest of a wanted member of the Ghost Face gang to arrests made after Gilmer Deputies uncovered the murder of a woman in Cherry Log.
Today, the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Stacy Nicholson released information pertaining towards the seizure of illegal drugs, guns, and operations in the county. Totaling a quarter of a million dollars, this number is only made more alarming to know that it is only the total amount captured in the first half of 2021.
Sheriff’s deputies and agents of the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Operation have reported the majority of captures as Methamphetamines, a drug that has been a problem for Gilmer County for years. Along with the information, they listed many of their seizures and the dates of occurrence:
Jan. 7 – 3.5 gr Meth
Jan. 13 – 3.5 gr Meth
Feb. 21 – 6.8 gr Meth
Feb. 24 – 22 gr Meth
Feb. 24 – 1 oz. Marijuana
Mar. 1 – Meth
Mar 11 – 10 gr Heroin
Mar. 17 – 8 gr Heroin, Meth, Ecstacy
Mar. 23 – 32 gr Meth, 31 gr Marijuana, 25 Schedule IV pills, $1,800 Cash
Mar. 30 – Dismantled “chop shop” operation
Apr. 1 – 1 gr Meth, 30 oz. Marijuana
Apr. 17 – 3.5 gr Meth, 28 Schedule IV pills
May 20 – 14 gr Heroin 4 gr Meth, firearms, 4 gr Meth, 20 THC vapes
May 28 – 40 Ecstasy pills
May 29 – 7 gr Heroin
June 3 – 8 Ecstasy pills, Firearms
June 8 – 3 oz. Meth, 1 oz. Heroin (along with West Metro/Fulton Co.)
June 11 – 167.1 gr Meth, 94.2 gr Heroin (along with GSP/Fannin Co.)
June 12 – 3.5 gr Meth, 5 gr Heroin
June 21 – 3.5 gr Meth
June 28 – 1 kilo Meth, 3 gr Heroin
July 7 – 1 lb. Marijuana, 1 kilo Meth
July 16 – 1.38 lb Meth, 6 gr Heroin
According to the Sheriff, this is not an exhaustive list. During their release “from the desk of the Sheriff,” Nicholson states, “This post highlights some of the more significant drug cases that GCSO Detectives, Crime Suppression Unit (CSU), K9 Deputies and Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement (ARDEO) Agents have made for the first half of 2021. This doesn’t include all cases made, however it does highlight the more significant ones.”
Another point to think about is that this is the amount they seized, continuing operations still have more and more drugs circulating through the streets.
During these operations alone, 33 people have been arrested. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, a study in 2018 showed 67,367 deaths by overdose in Georgia alone. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 2020, a year with most people at home in isolation and quarantine, Gilmer County alone saw 534 Emergency Department visits over the year related to Drug Overdose specifically. That number is only those who made it to the Emergency Room to be treated.
Many others offer alternative stories. Stories like a boy who overdosed on his own couch, and rather than call 911 to get help, his friend leaves him to die so he doesn’t get caught with the drugs.