This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Players in meth ring get prison terms (Georgia)

By Becky Purser

PERRY - The seven major players in a large methamphetamine ring busted by Warner Robins police last spring have all been dealt significant prison time, authorities said.

"It basically wiped them out," George H. Hartwig III, Houston County senior Assistant District Attorney, said Monday.

Of the seven defendants, the last, who authorities said was a major distributor of crystal methamphetamine in Houston County, was sentenced last week, Hartwig said.

John Francis Ebersole II, 27, of Warner Robins, was sentenced late Thursday in Houston County Superior Court to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamines and violation of the RICO Act, the federal racketeering law, the prosecutor said.

Ebersole was also ordered to pay $500,000 in fines and court fees and banished from Houston County for 15 years after whenever he is released from prison, Hartwig said.

In the meth ring, which was broken up March 18, 2005, by the Warner Robins Police Department's narcotics unit with the help of other law enforcement agencies, Ebersole distributed methamphetamine for a couple who lived in Warner Robins, Hartwig said. The couple was supplied by four men from the metro Atlanta area, Hartwig said.

When Ebersole's house was raided, police confiscated more than 500 grams of crystal meth, cash and two stolen handguns, Hartwig said. It was Ebersole's house where the drugs were stored for distribution, he said.

"All of them were basically handling and dealing in pound-plus quantities at a time," Hartwig said. "It was a big operation and a major investigation."

The Houston County prosecutor credited police for nailing down information during a six-month investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of the drug ring leaders. He said it took nearly a year to prosecute the major players.

In all, about 30 people were arrested, including street-level dealers. All but a dozen have been prosecuted, and they are awaiting trial, Hartwig said.

The other major players in the drug ring as identified by authorities are:

nAnthony Rudy Cebada, 37, of 300 Sunshine Way in Centerville, now serving a 20-year prison sentence for trafficking in methamphetamine.

His girlfriend, Mary Shannon, 27, of the same Centerville address, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for trafficking in methamphetamine.

The couple would get the drugs from the four Atlanta-area suppliers and deal them to Ebersole, who in turn would sell the drugs throughout the county, Hartwig said.

n Jose Martinez-Gloria, 47, of Norcross, is serving an 18-year prison sentence for conspiracy to trafficking in methamphetamines.

n Ivan Santiago-Melesa, 35, of Gwinnett County, is serving 22 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine.

n Martin Maldonado-Gonzalez, 39, of Lawrenceville, is serving a 10-year sentence for conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine.

n Mario Espinoso-Torres, 41, of Norcross, is serving 15 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamines.

The Gwinnett County men were the four suppliers, the prosecutor said.

Warner Robins police Lt. Lance Watson, who heads the narcotics unit, said the dismantling of the drug ring was made possible in part by changes made by Police Chief Brett Evans when he took command in December 2003.

"He wanted us working large investigations," Watson said. "We hadn't been turned loose to do that. We'd get complaints of street-level stuff. But he freed us up to work a case like this."

Watson said he was encouraged by the stiff prison terms dealt to leaders of the drug ring.

"It shows you can work the higher-up part of an organization and make an impact on the street-level drugs," he said.

In the war on illegal drugs, the officer said, a case like this one gives narcotics investigators a boost. "When you see results like that, it's like dangling a carrot in front of you," he said.

The investigation, which was headed by Warner Robins police investigator Meredith Edwards, was assisted by Centerville police, the Houston County and Bibb County district attorney's offices, Bibb County sheriff's deputies and Byron police.

"We're going to continue in Houston County to catch and prosecute folks who are trafficking in crystal meth," Hartwig said. "It's a horrible drug that's becoming more and more prevalent every day. The only way we're going to have a chance of slowing it down is to try and get those who are distributing it and send them to prison."


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