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Nine new arrests in Ben Hill drug case

FITZGERALD — Nine more suspects have been arrested in a Ben Hill County case in which authorities say methamphedameine was smuggled in from Mexico, officials say.

According to Mark Pro with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Office in Sylvester, the investigation was launched in January by the GBI in collaboration with the Ben Hill County Sheriff’s Office and the South Central Drug Task Force for the purpose of targeting drug trafficking operations in the county.

A few weeks into the investigation, an illegal operation was identified that was suspected of transporting large quantities of “ice,” or crystal methamphetamine, to and from the Ben Hill County area, officials say. Corrinne Downing Gillis was identified in that investigation as having traveled to Mexico from Ben Hill County to obtain the illegal drugs, Pro said.

According to officials, GBI agents contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Brownsville Texas, to inform them of the possibility of Gillis crossing the Mexican border with the contraband and she was stopped by the Border Patrol. A search of her vehicle revealed approximately 42 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of $60,000, Pro said. Gillis was arrested and is being held on federal drug trafficking charges in Texas, officials say. Agents later secured state warrants on Gillis for four counts of sale of methamphetamine and one count of trafficking methamphetamine, Pro said.

Over the past few days, nine additional suspects have been arrested in conjunction with the drug trafficking case. According to Pro, the following people have been charged with intent to distribute and/or other violations of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act: James Christopher Stokes, Everette Force Jr., Wanda Carver, Scott Branam, Billy Gene Fussell, Chance Edward Hobby, Johnnie Yolanda Moore, Christopher Cleveland and Amber Rose Binion.