SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – One leader of a drug operation that involved hiding money in cotton candy machines has been sentenced to nearly 25 years in prison.
Karteau “Yay” Jenkins, of Stone Mountain, was convicted in 2019 on multiple trafficking offenses, including cocaine possession with intent to distribute.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney David Estes for the Southern District of Georgia, Jenkins will be required to serve five years of supervised release after his 290-month prison sentence.
“From investigation to trial to conviction, our law enforcement partners worked tirelessly to produce a case that provided our prosecutors with the essential tools and evidence to put Jenkins and his co-conspirators behind bars,” said Estes. “This relentless pursuit in Operation Five Hole makes the community safer by removing these importers of poison from our community.”
Meanwhile, former Savannah resident Eugene Allen, also known as Poncho, awaits sentencing in the drug trafficking case.
Federal investigators say Allen — serving a life sentence for a 2004 Savannah murder — helped run the operation from behind bars using a smuggled cell phone.
Allen and Jenkins were among 20 defendants indicted in Operation Five Hole. The multi-agency investigation revealed cash from drug sales was being hidden in cotton candy machines and shipped through the mail or in vehicles with hidden compartments.
Drugs and cash were brought from California to Atlanta and many times through Savannah. The operation netted marijuana, cocaine, firearms and nearly $400,000 in cash.
“Using the collective resources of local, state, and federal agencies is critical to targeting criminal organizations trafficking drugs across the country and into our community,” said Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team Director Michael Sarhatt. “The multi-agency cooperation throughout the investigation and prosecution of this case was essential to its success.”
According to Estes, of the other 18 defendants indicted in the conspiracy, 16 have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced or await sentencing, with cases dismissed against two defendants.
Twelve other defendants pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the operation and have been sentenced.