Law enforcement agencies seize guns and drugs

Operation Unicoi Pipeline slams the door on criminal organization responsible for trafficking more than 150 kilograms of methamphetamine in North Georgia and Clay County, NC.

Multiple law enforcement agencies swarmed on suspected methamphetamine traffickers in North Carolina and Georgia on Sept. 5. Officers executed numerous search warrants in Georgia and Clay County, North Carolina. This unified law enforcement effort, dubbed “Operation Unicoi Pipeline” is the result of a 16 month investigation. This investigation revealed Charles Michael Ledford and Bobby Roger Burch were responsible for the distribution of more than 150 kilograms of methamphetamine in North Georgia and Clay County, North Carolina over the past two years. Authorities seized more than 15 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, stolen firearms, and currency derived from methamphetamine distribution. The street value of the seized illegal narcotics is more than $725,000.00.

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A number of stolen firearms were recovered during “Operation Unicoi Pipeline,” along with several narcotics.

Authorities found over 3 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in a battery of Bobby Roger “Rob” Burch’s truck in Gainesville, Georgia. Burch had just left Charles Michael Ledford’s residence in Conyers and was traveling to Hayesville, North Carolina. Authorities executed search warrants at Ledford’s residence and found another 12 pounds of methamphetamine. Authorities also executed a search warrant at Michael Byers’ residence in Young Harris, Georgia and found 1 ounce of methamphetamine. North Carolina authorities executed numerous search warrants in Clay County, North Carolina and seized a cache of guns and illegal narcotics from Burch’s residence. Clay County, North Carolina has confirmed many of these guns are stolen

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The estimated street value of the seized illegal narcotics is more than $725,000.00.


Charles Michael Ledford, 48, of Conyers was arrested for trafficking methamphetamine.  Ledford was transported to the Rockdale County Detention Center.

Burch, 47 of Hayesville, N.C. was arrested for trafficking methamphetamine.  Warrants are pending in Clay County, N.C. for Maintain Vehicle/Dwelling/Place for Controlled Substances, Possession with Intent to Manufacture/Sell/Deliver Methamphetamine, and Possession of Stolen Firearm.  Burch was transported to the Hall County Detention Center.

Michael Dean Byers, 46, of Young Harris was arrested for trafficking methamphetamine in Georgia and Sell and Deliver Methamphetamine and Trafficking in Methamphetamine in Clay County, NC. Byers was transported to the Towns County Detention Center.

This is an active investigation and additional arrests are expected. Agencies request that anyone with information about this organization contact the Appalachian RDEO or any of the participating agencies.

The following agencies have active roles in this investigation:  the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, the Clay County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Office, the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit, Macon County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit and Special Response Team “SRT”, the Highlands Police Department, the Cherokee Indian Police Department, the Swain County, NC Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the DEA, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office Multi Agency Narcotics Squad, and the GBI’s West Metro Regional Drug Enforcement Office.

For additional information about Appalachian RDEO or to provide tips on criminal activity look for ARDEO@appalachiandtf on twitter or follow on facebook@appalachianrdeo and/or Instagram.

The Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office is a multi-agency unit that consists of the following Sheriff’s Offices: White County, Lumpkin County, Towns County, Banks County, Jackson County, Habersham County, Stephens County, Rabun County, Franklin County the Cleveland Police Department, the Lavonia Police Department, and the Toccoa Police Department, along with the Georgia National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, the Department of Public Safety, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.   

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