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CoreCivic Prison at Center of Georgia Drug Trafficking Investigation

Jessica “The Madam” Burnett is set to plead guilty to a series of charges which included conspiracy to distribute methamphetamines and marijuana as part of a major drug trafficking investigation covering several southern Georgia counties and correctional facilities.

Burnett was a sergeant at the Core­Civic-run private prison, the Coffee County Correctional Facility. At 41 years of age, charges stated that Burnett smuggled drugs, cell phones, and other items into the prison for gang members.

She and 47 other defendants were caught up in Operation Sandy Bottom begun in 2018 when the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office asked for assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Coastal Georgia Violent Gang Task Force to address the growing drug problem in the Sandy Ridge neighborhood of Douglas, Georgia. The indictment was unsealed January 2021 and alleged 129 total charges against the defendants.

Police stated that the drug ring was run by the Gangster Disciples, expanded across Coffee, Bacon, Emmanuel, Jeff Davis, Pierce, and Wheeler counties in Georgia and was coordinated by members of the gang in the state prison system.

Burnett faces up to 20 years in prison for her crimes. She and a second guard, Idalis Harrell, both are pleading guilty while others await trial on their charges. “Compromised correction officers who breach security to provide contraband to inmates represent a significant danger not only to inmates and guards, but also to citizens outside prison walls who are within reach of unmonitored jail communications from smuggled cell phones,” stated United States Attorney H. Estes. “Jessica Burnett is rightfully being held accountable for violating her oath and endangering the community.” See: United States v. McMillan, USDC, S. Dist. GA, Case No. 5:20-cr-00007-LGW-BWC. 

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Related legal case

United States v. McMillan