BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WRBL) – The lead defendant in a Georgia drug-trafficking operation was sentenced to prison. At the same time, the last defendant in the investigation awaits sentencing after all defendants entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court.

Nickson Joseph, aka “Cujo,” 57, of Brunswick, Georgia, received 110 months in prison after he pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and alprazolam, according to U.S. Attorney David H. Estes.

In addition to Joseph’s prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood fined him $1,500 and ordered him to serve three years of supervised release.

Estes commended Operation Jump Start’s effort and assured the public that law enforcement would continue to find and prosecute those participating in similar conspiracies.

“The investigation and prosecution in Operation Jump’s Start is an outstanding example of the successful partnership between local, state, and federal agencies in coordinating the fight against drug trafficking organizations,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “We are committed to collaborating with our law enforcement partners to make our streets safer by identifying and prosecuting criminal conspiracies.”

Operation Jump Start, an investigation facilitated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), pursued individuals involved in distributing heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and other drugs in south Georgia.

The investigation began in 2019 after a Glynn County Sheriff’s Office source identified illegal distributors in Glynn, Camden, and McIntosh Counties.

Glynn County Sheriff’s Office Investigators, with assistance from other law enforcement entities, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), conducted controlled purchases of drugs and searched residences and vehicles.

As a result, authorities charged seven defendants and identified Joseph as the leading distributor. Four other co-defendants placed in the conspiracy have been sentenced after pleading guilty.

The last remaining defendant, Kirk Westberry, 30, of Brunswick, Georgia, is scheduled for sentencing in May after he pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Glynn County Sheriff’s Office, along with the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the GBI, the Georgia State Patrol, the Glynn County Police Department, the Brunswick Police Department, and the Darien Police Department, investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah J. Abrams and OCDETF Coordinator Marcela C. Mateo prosecuted the case for the United States.