Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis once secured a drug trafficking conviction by convincing a federal jury in Atlanta that a papaya sticker was as good as a fingerprint.

A truck driver had been charged with transporting a half-ton of marijuana from Mexico to Atlanta, but the drugs in question had been recovered in a house and agents had nothing linking them to the truck or the defendant.

Davis—who, according to his fellow prosecutors, "leaves no stone unturned in conducting investigations"—directed federal drug agents to search the truck trailer a second time. They found only a few papaya stickers.

He then had agents re-examine all the packages of marijuana that had been stashed in the house. On a single package of marijuana, agents found a sticker identical to the ones they had recovered from the truck, prosecutors said.

Davis later convinced a jury that the papaya stickers were the link that proved that the marijuana had been transported by the driver. The jury convicted.

"Jeff's judgment, insight and intellect allow us to assign him our most difficult and sensitive cases and have absolute confidence that the outcomes will reflect the highest standards of justice and professionalism," says U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "And yet we sense that Jeff is continuing to grow and learn as a prosecutor, so it's exciting to see so much potential for future accomplishments as well."

Davis joined the U.S. attorney's office in Atlanta in 2008 after 4½ years with the Manhattan District Attorney's office in New York and a year at Bear Stearns as vice president of its anti-money laundering group. Originally assigned to the narcotics section, Davis quickly became involved in public corruption cases.

In 2010, he began work on an ongoing case into a ring of Jamaican drug traffickers that has led to the prosecution of more than 20 defendants, including a corrupt U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who smuggled drug money and guns through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and a DeKalb County police officer. The operation resulted in the seizure of 700,000 Ecstasy tablets, the ninth largest amount of the drug ever seized in the United States.

Davis has continued his pursuit of law enforcement officers suspected of smuggling contraband through Hartsfield. Last year, he prosecuted two U.S. Transportation Security Administration agents who conspired to smuggle cocaine through airport security for undercover federal agents they thought were members of a drug cartel.

Since last fall, Davis has been deeply involved in a public corruption investigation of former Murray County Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran that has, so far, resulted in guilty pleas by two sheriff's deputies—one of them the former judge's cousin—and the judge's part-time handyman. The convictions stem from the bogus felony arrest of a witness who was cooperating with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission and allegations that Cochran was soliciting sex in return for favorable court rulings.

—R. Robin McDonald