Cross Country Drug Operation used Cotton Candy machines to hide drugs, money

Crime & Safety

 A drug bust and convictions, all part of a cross country drug operation that came right through Savannah.

This week, the latest suspect placed behind bars.

Aaron “Yup” Hubbard was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for his part in the multi-tiered drug operation – which brought drugs and cash from California to Atlanta, many times through Savannah.

Hubbard pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The sentence will be served consecutive to his sentence for violating state parole.

“(they were) Taking the substance and or money and putting it inside these machines and transporting back and forth as an attempt to hide these items,” explained Gene Harley, Assistant Deputy Director of the Savannah-Chatham Counter Narcotics Team.

The substance is cocaine and marijuana, large quantities of it. The machines usually would make cotton candy for the fair. These men used them to hide their money.

Marijuana sales were used to finance cocaine purchases, with cash proceeds hidden in candy machines and shipped to hubs in Atlanta and California. Co-conspirators in those areas shipped pounds of marijuana and kilograms of cocaine to Savannah via U.S. Mail and in vehicles with hidden compartments.

“Not only are they going to try and perfect their craft, they try to find the best way to move their product without being detected,” said Harley. “As they adapt we adapt with them, with the goal to be better than them.”

The drug kingpin running this entire operation was already behind bars himself. According to federal agents Eugene “Poncho” Allen was using smuggled cell phone from behind bars.. as he was already serving a life sentence for a 2004 murder in Savannah.

Federal investigators say while on state parole, Hubbard served as a major cocaine dealer in Savannah for the drug trafficking organization. During the investigation, agents intercepted him on court-authorized wiretaps and seized nearly $100,000 in cash, multiple firearms, pounds of marijuana and other drug trafficking tools from Hubbard’s stash houses.
Hubbard was in frequent phone contact with co-conspirator Eugene “Poncho” Allen, who is alleged to be a ringleader of the drug trafficking organization despite currently serving a life sentence for murder in a Georgia state prison. Allen is alleged to have run his organization using smuggled contraband phones.

“We just don’t go after jo blow low man on the totem pole,” said Harley. “We want to go after the person who is in charge of the organization but the person at the top, the source.”

Now the machines and the smugglers are behind bars, as many as 20 will face federal charges, which means no parole, whatever the sentence is, you serve.

“No matter how big they think they are or big their name is locally, CNTt’s name is bigger, dea’s name is bigger.”

“Despite however crafty or smart you think you are, i can promise you that we are better at this than you are, and you will get caught.”

“Hubbard continued to distribute drugs on the streets of Savannah while on state parole, showing an intentional disregard for the law,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Thanks to the hard work and cooperation of multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies as part of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force, he will serve his entire federal sentence because there is no opportunity for parole in the federal system.”
“Those breaking the law don’t care about jurisdictional lines, and law enforcement agencies shouldn’t either,” said Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap. “Our community benefits the most when all law-enforcement agencies work in tandem. This task force is the perfect example of why that is important. I want to thank all of the partners for their hard work in getting these criminals off our streets.”

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Chatham County Narcotics Unit (CNT), the Savannah Police Department, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Postal Inspector’s Office and the United States Marshal’s Service. This case is being prosecuted as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) program, which is the premier law enforcement unit whose task is to dismantle multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking organizations. This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney/ Assistant District Attorney Noah Abrams, and Assistant United States Attorneys Greg Gilluly and Frank Pennington.

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