High School Football

Sheriff hoping huge sentences in busted meth ring deter future drug-runners

ELKINS, W.Va. — 14 out of the 24 people originally indicted on meth and gun-running charges in North Central West Virginia have been sentenced to prison time, and all 24 have entered pleas from the October 2016 indictment.

“We believe it sends a very loud and strong message to other drug traffickers in the area; that if you are going to traffic drugs in our areas and try to destroy our communities, that you will be held at task and we will identify you and we will bring you to justice,” Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady said.

Of the 14 so far sentenced, each person is averaging more than 6.5 years in prison.

“It was a dangerous operation, but it all went very well with the hard work of all those task force members,” Brady said.

Brady, who’s part of the Mountain Region Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, said the outcome of what was a multi-year investigation should give pause to anyone interested in bringing methamphetamine or other drugs into Randolph, Barbour, Pocahontas, Tucker, and other neighboring counties. The Task Force includes the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, West Virginia State Police, the ATF, U.S. Forest Service, the D.E.A., and the Tucker County Sheriff’s Department.

“The folks on that task force have done an outstanding job,” Brady said. “Working late at night, weekends, holidays, taking time away from their families to rid this scourge from our communities.”

The indictment of the 24 individuals indicates the meth ring had distributed more than 500 grams.

“It was the amount–the quantity–of methamphetamine that was being transported and the several different ties to different areas that were tied to out-of-state coming to West Virginia,” Brady said. “The same names kept popping up, and we was able to tie it into a conspiracy to all of it.”

Additionally, police seized more than $23,000 in cash, more than 250 firearms, and C4 explosives beginning as far back as October 2015.

“The public was able to feed us information and give us tips along the way, which we really led to a lot of these cases being developed,” he said.

Brady said this investigation was of vital importance. Most of the meth distributed in this operation was 98 to 99 percent pure, he said.

“The level of the degree of potency of this methamphetamine is very high,” Brady said. “We knew we were targeting the right folks that were bringing it to our communities by the investigations that were conducted.”

Fourteen people, thirteen total from Randolph and Barbour counties, were sentenced to a combined 1107 months in prison for their role in a meth distribution ring in North Central West Virginia.

From Randolph County:

  • Sean Michael Moser, 27, of Elkins, West Virginia, was sentenced Wednesday to 210 months in prison. Moser pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in February 2017.
  • Joseph Richard Muster, 28, of Elkins, West Virginia, was sentenced Wednesday to 100 months in prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of methamphetamine in February 2017.
  • Christina Crites, 46, of Elkins, West Virginia, was sentenced to 112 months in prison. She pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of methamphetamine in proximity of a protected location in February 2017.
  • Tre Michael Plaugher, 22, of Elkins, West Virginia, was sentenced to 60 months in prison. Plaugher pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime in February 2017.
  • Jason Randall Howard, 38, of Elkins, West Virginia, was sentenced to 96 months in prison. Howard pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in March 2017.
  • Brian Scott Mayle, 38, of Coalton, West Virginia, was sentenced to six months in prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of receipt and transfer of explosive material without a license in January 2017.
  • Ronald G. Swiger, 36, of Coalton, West Virginia, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in January 2017.
  • David Maxwell, 32, of Elkins, West Virginia was sentenced Thursday to 34 months in prison for methamphetamine distribution. Maxwell pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of methamphetamine in January 2017. Maxwell sold crystal meth in Randolph County in April 2015.

From Barbour County:

  • Gerald Allen Freeman, 42, of Moatsville, West Virginia, was sentenced to 59 months in prison. Freeman pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of methamphetamine in February 2017.
  • Jeffrey Everson, 28, of Philippi, West Virginia, was sentenced to 40 months in prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in January 2017.
  • Derek Scott Norris, 36, of Philippi, West Virginia, was sentenced to 78 months in prison. Norris pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of methamphetamine in January 2017.
  • Calvin Norris Herron, Jr., 44, of Belington, West Virginia, was sentenced to 108 months in prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of methamphetamine in January 2017.
  • Geniece Pancake, 36, of Belington, West Virginia was sentenced Thursday to 120 months incarceration for assisting in the methamphetamine distribution operation. Pancake pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine” in January 2017.

An additional six people have entered pleas and await sentencing in the same case.

  • Allen White, 38, of Buckahnnon, entered a plea on April 17, 2017.
  • Jerry Wilson Hartley, 36, of Elkins, entered a plea on February 17, 2017.
  • Kayleigh Marie Hartley, 29, of Elkins, entered a plea on February 17, 2017.
  • Samantha Collett, 29, of Montrose entered a plea on January 17, 2017.
  • Tyler Robinson, 21, of Belington entered a plea on January 17, 2017.

Additionally, there were two indictments in this case from out-of-state.

  • Richard Wayne Scott, 41, of Waynesboro, Virginia, was sentenced Wednesday to 60 months in prison. Scott pleaded guilty to one count of interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime in February 2017.
  • Robert Lewis Jones, 54, of Waynesboro, VA entered a plea on March 17, 2017.




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