Six out of 15 accused conspirators in a methamphetamine manufacturing conspiracy ring pleaded guilty in Floyd County Superior Court on Friday.

James Ray Hash, Robert Edward Pierce III, Levon Boyd Tucker, John Thomas Vescovi, Danny Emerson Waldrop and Mildred Belle Wilson all pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and manufacturing charges as well as the possession of restricted amounts of pseudoephedrine.

The co-defendants were allegedly “smurfing” pseudophedrine tablets — visiting several retailers to buy vast amounts of the drug. Logs are kept of those who purchase pseudoephedrine, and those logs were used in the investigation.

The arrests stemmed from a yearlong investigation that included the seizure of a meth lab in January 2008. A majority of the arrests occurred in August 2008 on the same day police discovered a meth lab at 2610 Callier Springs Road while serving warrants.

Three of the co-defendants — Pierce, Tucker and Vescovi — also pleaded guilty to charges under Georgia’s recidivist statute.

Judge J. Bryant Durham explained to the three co-defendants that he will have to sentence them to the maximum allowed sentence but not necessarily the maximum time served in prison.

The judge ordered a pre-sentencing investigation done on each of the co-defendants, and they are set for sentencing June 9 with the exception of Waldrop, who will be sentenced May 12.

Federal authorities took over the prosecution of the supposed ringleader of the operation, Christopher Millican of Lyerly. The state has also charged him with additional felony drug charges.

In October 2008, Millican pleaded not guilty to manufacturing at least 50 grams of methamphetamine, possession of a substance to make methamphetamines and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in U.S. District Court in Rome.

Rome News Tribune