On Sept. 27, eight North Carolina residents pleaded guilty to participating in a methamphetamine trafficking ring. All of the defendants have been sentenced to federal prison for their crimes.

According to court documents, the defendants were running a meth ring in Surry County, Atlanta and other areas. A two-year investigation into the ring discovered that the group had distributed between 700 and 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine in Surry County alone. Over the course of the investigation, which was dubbed “Operation Thin Ice,” authorities seized an undisclosed quantity of methamphetamine and multiple firearms, including handguns, rifles and shotguns.

All of the defendants, who range in age from 22 to 55, pleaded guilty to some sort of drug crime, including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and distributing methamphetamine. One defendant also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm to further a drug trafficking crime. They were all sentenced to between 48 and 240 months in federal prison. The investigation was conducted by members of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, the Mount Airy Police Department, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security. The defendants were sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Defendants facing drug charges might need the help of a criminal law attorney. The attorney may scrutinize the evidence for details that could be used in the defendant’s favor and challenge the prosecution’s case, which might cause the charges to be dismissed. Another strategy may be for legal counsel to negotiate a plea deal that allows the defendant to plead guilty to reduced charges, which might lead to a lighter sentence.