Tifton bartender sentenced to prison for distributing fentanyl, meth

Apr. 29—ALBANY — A Mexican citizen who was brokering large amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine while working as a bartender in Tifton was sentenced to federal prison for his crime.

Edgar Fernando Neri, aka Colocho, 22, of Guadalajara, Mexico, was sentenced to serve 87 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release by U.S. Senior District Judge Hugh Lawson on April 26, after Neri previously pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of methamphetamine. There is no parole in the federal system.

"Fentanyl is a poison infecting our communities and attracts other dangerous criminal activities, as seen in this case," U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said. "We are working with law enforcement at every level to push back against the threat of fentanyl and the international criminal networks supporting its distribution."

"A large amount of illegal drugs was taken off the streets of south-central Georgia," GBI Director Michael Register said. "We will continue to dedicate resources to investigating drug activity to make our communities safer. Thank you to our federal partners for being a force multiplier when it comes to successfully investigating and prosecuting these types of cases."

"This defendant posed a clear and present danger to the Tifton community by dealing in dangerous drugs, including discussions of firearms trafficking," Robert J. Murphy, the special DEA agent in charge of the Atlanta Field Division. "Thanks to collaborative partnerships between the DEA and its law enforcement partners, this defendant no longer poses a threat to Tifton and elsewhere."

According to court documents, GBI agents developed a confidential source in late August 2021 who had information regarding the distribution of methamphetamine in Tift County. The confidential source had been purchasing drugs from a local bartender known as "Colocho." During the investigation, Neri discussed moving pounds of methamphetamine, multiple kilos of cocaine, as well as the purchase of body armor, rifles, a rocket launcher and rockets with his supplier in Los Angeles.

Multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine were made from Neri, and Neri arranged for shipments of more methamphetamine and fentanyl pills from his L.A. source. Packages containing three pounds of methamphetamine and 1,990 blue fentanyl pills were sent from Neri's source in L.A. to Tifton in October of 2021; Neri was taken into custody on Oct. 19 of that year. Neri is being held responsible for distributing 1,290.93 grams of actual methamphetamine based on the high level of purity of the methamphetamine involved and 1,990 pills containing fentanyl and weighing 205.92 grams.

The case was investigated by DEA, GBI and the Tift County Sheriff's Office, with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert D. McCullers prosecuted the case.