SAVANNAH, GA: A former Savannah resident serving a life sentence in state prison for murder has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for operating a drug trafficking organization while incarcerated.
Eugene Allen, a/k/a “Poncho,” 44, was sentenced to 360 months in federal prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Cocaine and 50 Kilograms or More of Marijuana, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Allen was convicted of the charge by a U.S. District Court jury in August 2019. After completion of his prison term, Allen must serve eight years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Using contraband cell phones to circumvent prison monitoring of his conspiracy, Eugene Allen directed nearly two dozen others outside the prison to bring large amounts of drugs to the Savannah area for distribution throughout the region,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Our diligent law enforcement partners shut down this poison distribution network, and Allen is the final member of this conspiracy to now find himself in federal prison.”
As described in court documents and testimony, Allen – a high-ranking member of the Gangster Disciples criminal street gang – has been in state prison since 2004 after violating parole on a prior state conviction. In 2006, he was convicted of multiple violent crimes, including murder, and sentenced to life in prison. While incarcerated in Autry State Prison and at Coffee Correctional Facility, Allen used cell phones – dropped in by remote-control drone aircraft, or smuggled via prison guards – to direct the other members of the conspiracy.
In an investigation dubbed Operation Five Hole started in 2014, the FBI, the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT) and the Savannah Police Department determined that those co-conspirators shipped or delivered kilogram amounts of drugs, including cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana, from California to Atlanta, and then to Savannah for distribution throughout the area, often concealing the shipments in candy machines. Co-conspirators also shipped large quantities of vacuum-sealed cash to pay the sources of supply.
Allen and 19 co-defendants were indicted in U.S. District Court in 2017 for their roles in the drug trafficking conspiracy. All have been adjudicated, with17 found guilty and sentenced and two cases dismissed. Another 12 related defendants also have been sentenced. Many of the defendants also were convicted and sentenced for related state charges.
“This sentencing is the result of the hard work and dedication of multiple federal state and local law enforcement agencies, as part of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. As a result, Allen, who continued to wreak havoc in the community even after his state prison sentence will now face federal prison time, without the possibility for parole. Hopefully, this sends the message that the FBI and our partners will go to any length to uphold the law.”
“By directing a drug trafficking network from prison, Allen has shown an obvious disregard for the law which cannot be ignored,” said CNT Director Michael G. Sarhatt, “CNT continues to focus our efforts on targeting criminal organizations such as this one in order to keep these toxic substances from reaching our community. I am thankful for the assistance from our federal, state, and local partners during this investigation.”
Operation Five Hole was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.
The case was investigated by the FBI, CNT, the Savannah Police Department, the Chatham and Effingham County Sheriffs’ Offices, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah J. Abrams, Frank M. Pennington II, and E. Gregory Gilluly Jr.