40 charged for roles in meth trafficking organization
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced Friday that a federal grand jury has returned indictments charging 35 individuals for their roles in a drug trafficking organization, with ties to the Bloods, Crips and Gangster Disciples criminal gangs, responsible for distributing large quantities of meth in Charleston. An additional five people were charged through federal criminal complaints.
Approximately 15 pounds of meth, 45 firearms including a fully automatic weapon and more than $375,000 was seized through the investigation on the city’s west side. Stuart said this is one of the largest indictments in a single week in the history of the Southern District of West Virginia.
The long-term investigation, dubbed the “Woo Boyz,” was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Charleston Police Department, and the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT), with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and the West Virginia State Police. The Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) provided critical support to the investigative agencies.
“We’ve made it really clear, the good people of the West Side, we’re going to do all we can,” Stuart said. “Chief Tyke Hunt and all the folks behind me to make sure those streets are as safe as any streets in America.”
Charged in a 15 count indictment are Jermaine Williams, 20; Tyjaha Watson, 26; Memphis Ross, 20; Dante Williams, 24; Joshua Lawson, 30; and Darius Coles, 23, all of Charleston; as well as Myreo Dixon, 34, of Michigan: Elijah Figg, 21, of Huntington; and Kassie McNeeley, 21, of Lesage. The indictment charges the nine defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in and around Charleston from July 2020 to February 2021. The indictment further charges various drug and gun crimes carried out in connection with the DTO. In a separate indictment, Erica Ratliff, 36, of Charleston, was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
In addition, Maylik Watson, 27, Devonte Lavauhn Andrews, 28, Sydni Watson, 29, and William Edward Byers II, 44, all of Charleston, and Jaquan Jeremiah Wright, 22, of New York, have been charged by federal criminal complaints in connection with this investigation.
Stuart said law enforcement also found a backpack with 560 grams of suspected fentanyl, the leading cause of overdose deaths in West Virginia. That is enough to kill 28 million people, more than the population of West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia combined, Stuart said.
These drugs were tracked back to the well known pipeline coming to West Virginia from Detroit, Columbus and Akron, Stuart said. He was proud to spend his final day working as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District completing a major bust in an area that has been troubled with drug activity.
“From Day 1, my priority has been keeping the good people of West Virginia safe. The West Side has been a source of violence and calamity for too long. No more,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Throughout my tenure as U.S. Attorney, I have been laser focused on improving public safety on Charleston’s West Side. My team has been committed to working with our federal, state and local partners to rid the community of violence and poison peddling. The dismantling of this network of violent meth traffickers is a big win for law enforcement and the West Side community.”
“For too long, this gang has been a blight on Charleston,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Scott, head of DEA’s Louisville Division. “Between the violent acts they’ve committed and the drugs they’ve distributed throughout the community, Maylik Watson and his associates have shown little to no regard for human life. Thanks to the dedicated men and women of DEA and our law enforcement partners, the people of Charleston can sleep more soundly, knowing these people are off the streets.”
“All too often, drug dealers use firearms to further their criminal activities,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge R. Shawn Morrow, of the Louisville Field Division. “This drug trafficking organization threatened the safety of the Charleston community with both meth and firearms. Working with our law enforcement partners, ATF provides significant resources to prosecute these offenders and remove them from our West Virginia communities.”
Joining Stuart for the announcement were Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Jack Sparks, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ASAC Lissa Jordan, Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt, MDENT Commander Ryan Higginbotham, U.S. Marshal Michael Baylous, and Appalachia HIDTA West Virginia State Coordinator Chad Napier.
ORIGINAL STORY 2/26/21 @ 10:20 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart held his final press conference Friday morning, announcing 27 indictments and charging 35 individuals.
This involved the U.S. Attorney’s office, local law enforcement, the DEA, AFT and U.S. Marshal.
Stuart says this is one of the largest investigations in a single week.
11 indictments involve firearms, domestic violence, controlled substance and sex trafficking. Two indictments include illegal aliens, trafficking and fraud.
12 indictments include various drug crimes.
U.S. Attorney Stuart says he is proud of the progress of the opioid crisis.
Anthony Bell is charged with 40 grams of fentanyl. Officials say this will likely be 560 grams but they are still testing. He’s also involved in the potential death of 28 million people coming from this amount of fentanyl. The Oak Hill Police Department and Central West Virginia Drug Task Force assisted.
The largest investigation is called WOO Boys. This is a drug trafficking organization in the west side of Charleston. There are direct ties to the bloods and gangster disciples. There was a 15 count indictment for nine people. Some are in custody and others are on the run. This includes drug and gun trafficking over the past year. 15 lbs of meth, 45 guns, including sub machine gun and $375,000 in cash were seized. The DEA, AFT and the Charleston Police Department assisted.
Attorney Stuart announced he was resigning from his position earlier this month.
This is a developing story.
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