Multiple agencies assist in largest methamphetamine seizure in W.Va. history

Federal grand jury indicts 30 for their roles in methamphetamine trafficking organization
A press briefing regarding the arrests and the investigation was held Wednesday afternoon.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 11:47 AM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A major drug trafficking investigation has resulted in the largest seizure of methamphetamine in West Virginia state history, according to the United States Department of Justice.

A major drug trafficking investigation has resulted in the largest seizure of methamphetamine in West Virginia state history, the US Department of Justice says.

A press briefing regarding the arrests and the investigation was held Wednesday afternoon at the Robert C. Byrd Unites States Courthouse in Charleston.

During the press conference, United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Will Thompson announced that along with the largest seizure of methamphetamine in state history, law enforcement agencies seized the following during the 8-month-long investigation:

  • 28 pounds of cocaine
  • approximately 20 pounds, equaling roughly four and a half million lethal doses of fentanyl
  • at least 18 firearms
  • hundreds of thousands in cash

“We don’t know the exact poundage yet. But, it is the largest methamphetamine seizure in West Virginia history. It was significantly over 200 pounds,” said Thompson. “As you know, methamphetamine is a very nasty drug. It is extremely addictive. It is very hard on both the brain and the body. It also leads to violence and is very hard to treat.”

A federal grand jury has returned three indictments charging 30 individuals for their roles in the drug trafficking organization (DTO) responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl in Charleston. Another 24 individuals are charged in state criminal complaints.

Thompson also said more than 50 federal search warrants were issued.

Officials say more than 250 members of law enforcement assisted in what is being called “Operation Smoke and Mirrors.”

“The takedown of this drug trafficking organization stopped a record amount of methamphetamine, as well as other dangerous drugs, from reaching our communities and causing harm,” United State Attorney Thompson said. “This investigation demonstrates that we will use all of our resources, including new and innovative investigative techniques, against those who target our communities with this poison. Our law enforcement partners worked tirelessly to dismantle this organization and obtain these indictments, and I commend their outstanding work and dedication.”

“These arrests are an outstanding example of what federal and local law enforcement can accomplish when we work together to target the individuals who threaten the safety and stability of our neighborhoods,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall. “A large amount of illegal and dangerous drugs were stopped from going into our local neighborhood during the course of this investigation. The arrests today dismantled a drug trafficking network that has wreaked havoc in the Charleston area for far too long. For anyone looking to fill the void left by those arrested, I want you to know we are not going anywhere, and the FBI and our law enforcement partners are here to find, arrest and bring to justice those who terrorize our community with violence and drugs.”

Officials report three individuals are still wanted on federal charges in connection with the operation and five are wanted on state charges.

Those wanted on federal charges are the following:

  • Deayria Eyshay Willis
  • Perry Johnson Jr.
  • Dashounieque Lashay Wright

Anyone with information on their whereabouts can call 1-800-CALL-FBI. Wright and Johnson do have ties to the Detroit area.

The following individuals are wanted in connection to state charges:

  • Tammy Alexandria Belcher
  • Zachary Allen Harrison
  • Jermain Santell Hill
  • Michael Gill Jeffries
  • David Dean Holmes II

Anyone with information regarding the above individuals are asked to contact the Charleston Police Department.

Charged in a three-count federal indictment are: Antonio Lamar Jeffries, 34, and Michael Allen Roberts, Jr., 40, both of St. Albans; Karl Lamont Funderburk, 37, of Hurricane, Mark Leslie Lively, 56, of Kenna; Scott Jeremy Savage, 46, of Nitro; Ryan Keith Kincaid, 46, of South Charleston; Todd Tyler Snead, 57, of Waynesboro, Virginia; and Tres Avery Davis, 34, Telisa Rene McCauley, 31, Deayria Eyshay Willis, 24, John Paul Loudermilk, 60, Timothy Allen Loudermilk, 63, Keith Royal Goode-Harper, 31, Nicole Leigh Fierbaugh, 44, Latesha Lashae Nappier, 29, Jeremy Rayshad Walker, 34, Charles Norman Pannell, 43, and Les Van Bumpus, 34, all of Charleston.

The indictment charges 14 of the defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from November 2022 to March 2023 at or near Charleston. The indictment attributes 500 grams or more of methamphetamine to Jeffries, Davis, McCauly, Roberts and Snead and 50 grams or more to Funderburk. The indictment charges six of the defendants with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and six of the defendants with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, all from December 2022 to March 2023 at or near Charleston.

Charged in a separate, one-count federal indictment are: Alexandria Jasmine Estep, 21, and Robert Dewayne Miller, 35, both of Charleston; and Perry Johnson, Jr., 29, and Dashounieque Lashay Wright, 26, both of Detroit, Michigan. The indictment charges all four defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from October 2022 to January 2023 at or near Charleston.

The federal grand jury previously indicted eight individuals as part of Operation Smoke and Mirrors: Jasper Wemh, 38, Justin Allen Bowen, 40, Richard Allen Bowen, 62, Kimberly Dawn Legg, 49, Larry Wayne Legg, 55, and Stanley Aaron Burkes, 62, all of Charleston; McKenzie Bowen, also known as McKenzie Myers, 24, of Belle; and Nicholas Bradford Confere, 35, of Mammoth. Justin Allen Bowen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine on February 23, 2023. Larry Wayne Legg pleaded guilty on March 6, 2023, to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The remaining defendants are scheduled for trial on April 25, 2023.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT), the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia National Guard Counter Drug program, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Charleston Police Department, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office. MDENT is composed of the Charleston Police Department, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Nitro Police Department, the St. Albans Police Department, and the South Charleston Police Department.

This is a developing story.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.