Lady Luck turned a run-of-the-mill meth dealer into a millionaire crank king.
Ronnie Music Jr. was just a 44-year-old fix-it man from Waycross, Georgia, when he struck it rich after hitting the Georgia state lottery’s $3 million jackpot last year. He could have done what many who play the numbers and scratchers do: retire early and kick back. Perfect his sand wedge. See the pyramids. Buy his local watering hole.
Instead, he stuck to his drug guns. And even after his co-conspirators were caught moving several pounds of pure Mexican manufactured methamphetamine, Music kept grinding; brazenly spearheading even more meth deals on behalf of an inmate behind bars.
“Music had already been convicted of multiple felonies before he won the lottery,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney James Durham of the Southern District of Georgia told us about the convict’s career as a meth slinger. “He then decides he’s going to plow his winnings into an apparent long-time profession of dealing meth.”
“You think he would have given it all up,” one law enforcement official said.
Instead, he’s facing 10 years to life in prison.
Back in February 2015, Ronnie Music, Jr. took home a “100X The Money” lottery ticket he apparently purchased at Papa’s Deli II (one of two gas stations owned by his dad Ronnie Music Sr.) and scratched his way to a $3 million windfall.
Music was stunned he’d won so big.
“I buy tickets every once in awhile,” he said at the time. “I couldn’t believe it, and I still don’t believe it yet.”
He failed to mention that the golden ticket was in fact purchased at his dad’s deli.
Representatives of the Georgia State Lottery did not respond to questions about whether there was anything suspicious about Music pulling a winning ticket from his dad’s store.
A clerk at the Papa’s II Deli where Music became a big shot told The Daily Beast nobody’s cited or stripped them of their machines because they’re still vending lottery tickets.
“We did have a winner back last year,” said the clerk, who didn’t give her name. “And we still sell the regular lottery [tickets] and the scratchers.”
Multiple attempts to reach Ronnie Music Sr. were unsuccessful. His son’s attorney Ron Harrison refused to comment about the criminal case or the winning scratcher’s origins citing “the pendency of a case.”
Right after snapping a photo with an oversized $3 million check, he vowed that he and his wife Mary were going to play it safe and save “a portion of the winnings.”
Instead, he dropped almost $500,000 to purchase nearly 11 pounds of 80 percent pure crystal meth made in Mexico.
The case started from scratch with Glynn County narcotics officers, who later joined the feds after the drug deals began unmasking “the source of supply.”
“Typically we don’t prosecute single hand-to-hand drug buys,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Durham added. “[Music] was dealing with multiple pounds of ice. One of the deals involved with this crew was 10.9 pounds of ice, which is significant.”
The deal was orchestrated by Music and a crew of what some of those involved in the case described as good ol’ country boys and girls; many who were addicts and had never moved anything close to this kind of weight.
On Sept. 1, 2015, a local man named Jesse Case agreed to sell several pounds of ice to a man he’d sold to before through one of his surrogates named Tressica Cureton.
Cureton, by all measures was a lowly messenger who, according to an ATF agent’s testimony in federal court “provided a sample” of the merchandise to the returning customer, who also happened to be an undercover agent.
That agent was clearly over the moon with the quality and did in fact broach “the possibility of procuring greater amounts of methamphetamine.”
Cureton had to go check with her supplier and “talk with others regarding procuring large amounts” to determine if they could deliver about 11 pounds of crank, according to the court transcripts.
The foot soldier Cureton turned to Jesse Case, who then went to his superior in Christopher McKinnon to strike the deal.
McKinnon then approached the head of the network.
“And between Mr. Music and Mr. McKinnon, that’s where the product was obtained, and once the product was in hand… it was transported from Ware County to Glynn County in Mr. Music’s vehicle,” according to the ATF agent’s testimony.
The honchos hand-delivered the meth to Case and his then 34-year-old partner in crime William Harrell. And then they kept it moving to get in position to conduct surveillance of the deal. So too were teams of local and federal officers monitoring the players and their moves.
Case wasn’t taking chances and packed a loaded .38 caliber Cobra derringer. Harrell merely arrived at the meet with a pocket knife, the indictment and guilty plea agreements suggest.
The group met at around 3:30 p.m. at the Brunswick West Shopping Center and as Harrell and Case were confirmed to have “the pounds of ice with intent to sell it, agents moved in to arrest,” the indictment confirmed. Harrell was quickly cuffed but Case tried to give chase. “He did not get far, due to his lack of athleticism and being lawfully shot with a Taser.”
Once under arrest agents pulled the ice, “some scales, a few cell phones, a computer and a little over a grand [cash],” according to the indictment.
Caught red-handed both Case and Harrell rolled quickly and “implicated” the other co-conspirators. But while Music would later plead guilty to multiple drug and firearm charges in the September ice deal gone bust, he managed to elude arrest.
He was cooking up more deals in less than a month’s time.
Back in Roanoke, Virginia Music joined forces dealing meth for a man behind bars in Georgia State Prison he only knew was “Wayne Miller.” According to Music’s July 22 plea agreement, he “made four previous trips where he had delivered kilogram-quantities of crystallized methamphetamine for Wayne at Wayne’s direction.” Music was paid in cash for the dead drops full of crank, all destined for Tennessee.
The seemingly untouchable Music didn’t know he was working with a DEA informant.
They agreed on a “prearranged location” where “agents observed Music pick up” the cash, the plea agreement states. With the currency in hand Music then texted the informant “to a separate location where a pound of methamphetamine was recovered.”
The plea agreement details how local Virginia cops finally brought Music down by detaining his car where they removed “four more pounds of methamphetamine, a 9mm pistol, and approximately $22,000.”
Two days later they tagged as evidence the convicted felon’s arsenal of pistols and shotguns, including an Aero Precision, Inc. Model G15 Ghost Gun rifle and a Palmetto State Armory Model PA-15 rifle, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, his 2015 Dodge Charger and 2015 GMC Sierra and more than $800,000 in cash.
Music and eight accomplices were arrested for weapons possession and conspiracy to distribute meth.
While charged in the Virginia-based meth case, Music’s plea agreement allowed him to cop to the charges but the feds folded the charges into the Georgia meth bust.
Had he been convicted in a court trial, Music could have been hit with almost 35 years hard time. In the end, Music decided to waive “his right to be indicted by other jurisdictions.”
In the end, the multi-state crimes Music copped to and the many he deputized to run the meth with him fractured families who were already drowning in turmoil.
McKinnon’s sister Christina Stone told The Daily Beast she was disappointed with the poor choices her brother made trying to turn messengering meth into a career.
“I ain’t talked to him in two or three years,” Stone said. “I don’t want to get involved; he got his own self in there he can get his own self out.
Robbie Harrell practically raised his nephew and said he’s wasn’t trying to hurt anyone.
“He got caught with a shitload of methamphetamine,” the 59-year-old uncle told us about his nephew. “He was just trying to make money.”
Harrell said his nephew is a misguided soul who’s had a meth problem for years.
“He was kicked out when he was using it in the Navy too,” he said.
For William Harrell’s grandmother, Alice, isn’t pointing fingers anywhere but at the guilty party.
“I’m not blaming anybody else; Billy has a mind of his own,” she said.
As for Music, the jackpot could’ve been a way out of the drug business, but it turned into a shovel he used to dig himself deeper and deeper in.
“He got wealthier, yes,” a law enforcement source said. “He also was more careless.”