Last updated February 16, 2023 @ 4:40 PM ET
The following was taken from a press release distributed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Georgia:
Muscogee County (February 16, 2023) – A Columbus resident with a violent criminal history was convicted by a federal jury on charges related to armed methamphetamine trafficking.
Karzarta Piett, 41, was convicted on Feb. 14 of possession of more than five grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon following a two-day trial that began on Feb. 13 before U.S. District Judge Clay Land.
Piett faces a maximum of 40 years in prison to be followed by at least four years of supervised release and a maximum fine of $5,000,000 for distribution of methamphetamine and a maximum of ten years in prison to be followed by at least three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for illegally possessing a firearm.
“Violent re-offenders engaged in armed drug trafficking will face federal prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are committed to stopping violent, repeat offenders in our district and holding them accountable for their crimes.”
“This meth dealer brazenly continued his drug trafficking activities despite being a five-time convicted felon,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Robert J. Murphy. “His conviction removes yet another dangerous criminal from our streets and sends a clear message to others who may choose to follow the same perilous path. DEA and its law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue criminals like Mr. Piett.”
“This case exemplifies our commitment to prevent drugs and criminal activity from poisoning our communities,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Beau Kolodka. “It also sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute members of these drug enterprises.” “One of our main goals is to protect our community from violent offenders like Karzarta Piett, who was engaged in reckless and destructive offenses. Piett will face the consequences of his actions because of the hard work of our Columbus Police Department Investigators and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
We are grateful for the critical support of our law enforcement partners, without whom this conviction would not have been possible. This investigation demonstrates our continued commitment to removing violent criminals and drug traffickers from our streets,” said Columbus Police Department Chief Freddie D. Blackmon, Columbus Police Department According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Piett was pulled over by Columbus Police Department (CPD) officers for multiple traffic violations on Jan. 7, 2021, after he was observed leaving a bar known for its drug trafficking activity. Piett was driving with a suspended license. Officers observed drug residue in the car; a K-9 unit was requested and a drug detection canine alerted to the presence of narcotics. A search of the defendant’s vehicle based on probable cause recovered two ounces of methamphetamine, a loaded pistol, a digital scale, plastic bags and approximately $1500 cash in the center console, plus more than $2,000 cash in Piett’s pocket.
A check of the defendant’s criminal background revealed a lengthy criminal history spanning 20 years, with five prior felony convictions including two separate convictions for aggravated assault and convictions for kidnapping, false imprisonment, robbery, terroristic threats and multiple drug distribution charges.
Following Piett’s June sentencing in the Middle District of Georgia, he will be transferred to the Middle District of Alabama where he is currently under indictment for conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.
An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
The case was investigated by DEA, ATF and the Columbus Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford Seals.