WALTON COUNTY, Ga. — The mystery motive behind a brutal killing in Walton County last year may have finally been discovered.
In April 2017, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, along with the Walton County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, DEA and Secret Service, dug up a body in a shallow grave.
The victim, 25-year-old Chase Loffler, had been reported missing a few weeks earlier.
Immediately, investigators arrested 22-year-olds Jonathan Lester and Kolbie Watters. Watter's father, Roger, was also charged.
But this week, federal authorities unveiled a multi-count indictment in a massive opioid empire. The two accused murderers, along with four others, are charged with manufacturing tens of thousands of counterfeit opioids.
The US Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Georgia said the murder victim, Loffler, was a co-conspirator who was beaten to death by Lester and Watters.
The six defendants are accused of participating in a drug conspiracy dating back to 2016, according to the Department of Justice announcement. The plot included importing a large amount of drugs on the Dark Web using cryptocurrency. They are accused of using industrial-grade machinery to manufacture pills, which were resold on the Dark Web and throughout Georgia, according to Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
Charged in the indictment are 24-year-old Walker Christian Forrester, of Loganville, and 22-year-old Kolbie Hadden Watters, of Augusta. Both are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances; using or maintaining a drug premises; possession with intent to distribute controlled substances; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession of an unregistered firearm; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted on all charges, the two face sentences of up to life in prison.
Larry Overton, 46, of Harlem, Georgia, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and using or maintaining a drug premises. If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Twenty-two-year-old Jonathan Britt Lester, of Loganville, 27-year-old Armand Sananda Saedi, of Atlanta, and 22-year-old Morgan McKenzie Slaton, of Hoschton, are each charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and if convicted, each face sentences of up to five years in prison.
"This is just a small piece of the puzzle in a growing opioid and pill mill problem in the state of Georgia," said Thomas J. Holloman, special agent in charge of the IRS Criminal Investigations for the Atlanta field office. "It also involved other alleged criminal activity touching all three judicial districts within Georgia as those involved showed the lengths they were willing to go to commit various crimes.
"We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners in following the money in an effort to dismantle illegal pill mill operations in our state," Holloman concluded.