Final defendant sentenced to prison in Operation Vanilla Gorilla, one year after indictments

Crime & Safety

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The final defendant in Operation Vanilla Gorilla was sentenced this week, one year after indictments.

Shawn Hadden, aka “Shorty”, 43, was sentenced Tuesday to 148 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. He pleaded guilty to the charges in March.

Hadden’s sentence comes after the 280 month sentence of key defendant, Trevor Aines, aka “Sticks”. His sentence is the longest of any of the defendants, following a guilty plea to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Methamphetamine, and to Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug-Trafficking Crime.

After they complete their prison time, both Hadden and Aines with serve a period of supervised release.

Operation Vanilla Gorilla targeted a major drug trafficking conspiracy linked to the Ghost Face Gangsters, a violent, white supremacist street gang that started and spread from Georgia’s prison system. The operation began in 2015.

Operation Vanilla Gorilla by the numbers:

  • 43 defendants (all pled guilty)
  • 21 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies
  • 561 previous arrests of defendants: 184 felony convictions, 184 misdemeanors
  • 4 defendants had more than 10 felony convictions each
  • 4,500 months: total sentences for all defendants
  • 104 months in prison: Average sentence per defendant
  • 36 firearms seized
  • Drugs seized: Kilograms of methamphetamine, pounds of marijuana, heroin, MDMA (ecstacy), crack cocaine, powder cocaine

“At the end of the day, citizens want to feel safe in their communities,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Director Vic Reynolds. “With the conclusion of this case, law enforcement demonstrates that this is important to us too. Getting violent offenders, drugs, and guns off the streets is a continuous effort between police and prosecutors. Gang-related activity will not be tolerated in south Georgia or any other part of the state.”

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