WAYCROSS, Ga. (WRBL) – The lead defendant in a fentanyl and heroin drug trafficking operation pled guilty, joining five other defendants who confessed to their roles in the conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney David H. Estes.

Eric Lashawn Hayes, also known as “Pee Wee,” 28, of Blackshear, Georgia, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime and Possession of Fentanyl with Intent to Distribute. Due to a prior felony conviction, Hayes faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence.

In addition to the minimum prison sentence, Hayes is subject to life in prison, hefty financial penalties, and a minimum of eight years of supervised release.

Hayes is one of the six defendants identified in February 2021 in U.S.A. v. Hayes, et. al, an indictment focusing on a drug trafficking network in the Waycross, Georgia, area. The Pierce and Ware County Sheriff’s Offices initiated an investigation in July 2020 after several drug-related overdoses and three deaths were attributed to fentanyl and heroin.

The Savannah Office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration later joined the investigation and identified Hayes as the supply source for the illegal drugs.

The other five defendants are charged with the following:

  • Cyrlus Lashawn Hayes, also known as “Dubo,” 45, of Waycross, Georgia, and the brother of Eric Hayes, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribution of Fentanyl and Heroin. Cyrlus Hayes is currently serving a 120-month sentence.
  • Crystal Champagne, 34, of Waycross, Georgia, is serving a 30-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to the Distribution of Fentanyl.
  • Preston Conner Luke, 27, of Blackshear, Georgia; Renalba Jamar Green, also known as “Reno,” 35, of Waycross, Georgia; and Davey Green, also known as “Little Dave,” 35, of Waycross, Georgia, all await sentencing after pleading guilty to charges related to the drug trafficking conspiracy.

The Savannah Office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ware County Sheriff’s Office, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, and the Blackshear Police Department, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank M. Pennington ll and Noah J. Abrams prosecuted the case for the United States.