Local Residents Among 31 Indicted in Drug Ring
WHEELING – Law enforcement officials in West Virginia and Ohio have cracked a local drug distribution organization, resulting in the indictments of 31 people.
Bill Powell, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, announced the indictments during a press conference held June 12 at the U.S. Federal Building in Wheeling.
Indictments were returned by a federal grand jury on those involved, including 23 West Virginia residents, many of whom live in New Martinsville and Sistersville.
“The methamphetamine problem is a growing one in this district, and we’ve contributed significant resources to their investigations,” Powell said. “We’ve had a meth problem for some time and the drugs we’re seeing are no longer the mom and pop type drugs we used to see, relatively impure. Instead, we’re now almost exclusively seeing very pure crystal meth made in laboratory. It’s a highly addictive substance and an increase in violent tendencies is just one of its many effects.”
The 11 agencies involved in the arrests seized more than $360,000 worth of methamphetamine as well as a large quantity of cash and firearms. The operation consisted of trafficking crystal meth, heroin and cocaine into West Virginia from Columbus and from as far away as Atlanta.
Also indicted were six men and two women from Ohio, who are suspected to be members or associates of a street gang called the Elaine Crip Family. Most of these suspects are from Columbus, with one from Canal Winchester and another from Groveport.
They were indicted in connection with trafficking of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin into Wetzel and Tyler counties, as well as into the southern district of West Virginia.
While Powell said most of those indicted had been arrested without incident or turned themselves in peacefully, two men remain at large. Cedric Douglas, 39, and Todd Jones, 50, are wanted by the U.S. Marshals, both for trafficking meth. Jones has ties to New Martinsville and Douglas has ties to Columbus and to Florida.
“We are blessed with a group of highly professional law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local government level,” Powell said. “We’re particularly proud of our task forces, including the Marshall County (Drug) Task Force, a group of dedicated individuals from local, federal and state law enforcement which spearheaded this investigation. Our task forces represent a force multiplier for our whole state and are a shining example of what we accomplish when we work together, and no one is concerned about who gets the credit.”
The following individuals in West Virginia were indicted:
* Joshua Cathers, age 38, of Sistersville
* Michael Shawn Hartline, age 34, of Sistersville
* Rachel A. Cook, age 28, of Sistersville
* Holly C. Jenkins, age 55, of New Martinsville
* Justin Richeson, also known as “Squash,” age 34, of New Martinsville
* Timothy Lohri, age 36, of Williamstown
* John M. Talkington, age 29, of New Martinsville
* Haley Weigle, age 24, of New Martinsville
* Wilson Longwell, age 26, of Littleton
* Desiree Morgan, age 23, of Paden City
* Ronald Morgan, age 50, of New Martinsville
* Richard Warf, age 54, of Sistersville
* Charles C. Williamson, age 31, of Sistersville
* Brea M. Saeger, age 27, of Sistersville
* Miranda Stewart, age 23, of Sistersville
* Susan Kotson, age 53, of New Martinsville
* Alex King, age 32, of New Martinsville
* Amber M. Richeson, age 36, New Martinsville
* Boyd Williamson, age 36, of Middlebourne
* Cynthia L. Henries, age 47, of New Martinsville
* Randy Peffer, age 25, of New Martinsville
* Doug William Matthews, age 32, of New Martinsville
Specific charges are as follows:
* Charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances are the following: Stewart, Cathers, Charles Williamson, Saeger, Warf, Ronald Morgan, Hartline, Cook, Jenkins, Justin Richeson, Lohri, Kotson, King, Amber Richeson, Boyd Williamson, Henries, Jones, Peffer, Matthews, Talkington, Weigle, Longwell, Desiree Morgan
* Charged with aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine are: Stewart, Hartline, Cook
* Charged with aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine are: Charles Williamson (2 counts), Saeger (2 counts), Henries (2 counts), Jones, Peffer
* Charged with aiding and abetting distribution of methamphetamine are the following: Warf (3 counts), Ronald Morgan (3 counts)
* Charged with distribution of methamphetamine are the following: Cathers (3 counts), Jenkins, Justin Richeson, Henries, Boyd Williamson (2 counts), Amber Richeson (3 counts), Longwell (2 counts), Desiree Morgan
* Charged with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances are: Warf,
* Charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin are the following: Jenkins
* Charged with distribution of methamphetamine in proximity to a protected location: Matthews (2 counts, near Magnolia High School)
* Charged with aiding and abetting the maintaining of a drug-involved premises: Kotson and King
* Charged with maintaining a drug-involved premise: Talkington, Longwell, and Weigle
* Charged with aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute heroin: Talkington, Weigle
* Charged with unlawful possession of firearms: Talkington, Longwell
Those, of Ohio, charged with “Conspiracy to Distribute and to Possess with the Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances” are:
* Marisa Page, age 26, of Columbus, Ohio
* Kenyatta Banks, Jr., also known as “Yatta”, age 28, of Canal Winchester
* Matthew Jackson, also known as “Matt-Matt”, age 22, of Columbus
* Delkira L. Rodgers, age 20, of Columbus
* Robert L. Gregory, age 36, of Columbus
* Cedric L. Douglas, age 29, of Groveport
* Aaron Callahan, age 28, of Columbus
Of the indictments, Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee commented, “I commend the hard work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, the West Virginia State Police, and all of the other law enforcement agencies that contributed to this prosecution. Investigations such as this one take time, and I know that can be frustrating for the public. However, it’s important to do it the right way and hopefully now we will be in a position to make a positive impact in our communities through this prosecution. As always, I am committed to interagency cooperation and to the constant employment of all legal means to confront the lawlessness of the criminal drug culture and the destructive effect it has on our communities.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert H. McWilliams Jr., and Shawn M. Adkins are prosecuting the cases on behalf of the government.
The Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol; Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Marshall County Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative; the West Virginia State Police; the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office; the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office; the Sistersville Police Department; the Paden City Police Department; and the New Martinsville Police Department investigated.
The Columbus, Ohio, Police Department Gang Crimes Unit assisted in the case.
The United States Marshal Service assisted in the arrests.
The investigation was funded in part through the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program.