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Indictments returned in major northern W.Va. drug case

WHEELING, W.Va. — A collaborative investigation involving several states and the northern district of West Virginia resulted in a federal indictment this week in Wheeling.

U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said the dragnet captured one of the biggest drug suppliers in the region and his drug sources in Mexico and California. Juan Carlos Magana, 41, of Sinaloa, Mexico, and Personne “Rico” McGhee, age 52, of Bellaire, Ohio, were charged Tuesday with conspiring to distribute large quantities of fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Ihlenfeld said the investigation disrupted a sophisticated transportation ring which hauled large quantifies of those drugs from Mexico to eastern Ohio smuggled aboard tractor trailers. The drugs were then distributed through a network of redistributors who sold the controlled substances in eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia, in Weirton, Wheeling, Morgantown, Fairmont and Clarksburg. As part of the scheme, according to the federal prosecutor, McGhee made large cash payments to individuals who flew from California to the Pittsburgh International Airport, picked up the money, and then promptly boarded outbound flights.

McGhee was arrested in 2022 during a raid of his home by multiple agencies of local, state, and federal law enforcement. Officers seized approximately 75 pounds of cocaine, 19 pounds of methamphetamine, and nearly 5 pounds of fentanyl from his home. Ihlenfeld said the raid also resulted in the confiscation of $295,038 in cash and five firearms. Simultaneous raids occurred at the airport in Pittsburgh, and at homes and businesses in West Virginia and Ohio.

“Rico McGhee was the most notorious drug dealer in the region and Juan Magana was his primary supplier,” said Ihlenfeld. “Due to the tremendous efforts of our investigators, one of the greatest sources of illicit drugs to West Virginia has been shut down.”

Six others were arrested on conspiracy charges in Ohio and California. Federal authorities charged five additional suspects in the case this week, all from West Virginia. They include:

– Ronald Shaw, 51, of Wheeling, WV (Methamphetamine distribution);

– Jaron Wells, 36, of Wheeling, WV (Fentanyl distribution);

– Rocco Pandoli, 34, of Wheeling, WV (Cocaine distribution);

– Ebony Miranda Webb, 34, of Wheeling (Cocaine distribution); and

– Chellsie S. Boyer, 32, of Weirton (Methamphetamine distribution).

The case also resulted in the seizure and eventually the forfeiture of a vast amount of vehicles and property. Including: GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Tahoe, a Polaris Slingshot, a Mercedes G-Class 450, a Bentley Continental, a BMW 535, a Cadillac XTS, a Chevrolet Cruze, a Buick Lacrosse, a Nissan Sentra, a Freightliner motor home, and an Acura.

Eleven parcels of real estate, five handguns, and three pieces of jewelry are also subject to forfeiture,

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