CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia held a press conference on Wednesday about an investigation into a drug ring involving north central West Virginia.
According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 11 people have been indicted for their alleged roles in a drug trafficking conspiracy. The ring has caused large quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine to flow from Detroit to West Virginia, announced United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld.
A 35-count indictment was unsealed during the conference on Wednesday and alleges that the defendants conspired to sell illicit drugs from October 2020 to February 2022 in Monongalia County and elsewhere. Eight of the 11 people who were indicted are from the Detroit area.
“We continue to see a significant influx of drugs from Detroit to the Morgantown region,” said Ihlenfeld. “The collaboration by law enforcement agencies in West Virginia with those in Michigan ensures that drug traffickers who operate across state lines will be held accountable.”
Those people charged are:
• William Trice, 31, of Eastpointe, Mich.
• Rico Crawford, 39, of Canton, Mich.
• Addonis Moore, 27, of Detroit, Mich.
• Jovonne Haynes, 26, of Detroit, Mich.
• Giovanni George, 32, of Taylor, Mich.
• Lewis Johnson, 34, of Detroit, Mich.
• Lloyd Vaughn, 27, of Detroit, Mich.
• Kenneth Jones, 27, of Detroit, Mich.
• Dayshawn Burton, 26, of Hamilton, Ohio
• Adrianna Bean, 21, of Morgantown, W.Va.
• Derrick Hamlet, 27, of Morgantown W.Va.
Eight of the eleven defendants are in custody while three remain at large.
During the press conference, Randy Bernard, First Assistant United States Attorney, explained that one main concern with the ring is the distribution of fentanyl. “It is no coincidence, I believe, that as we’ve seen an increase in the drugs trafficked from Detroit, particularly fentanyl, so too we’ve seen an increase with the deaths of our citizens from this dangerous drug.”
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is frequently mixed in with other illicit drugs to increase the potency of the drug, and it is possible for someone to take a pill without knowing it contains fentanyl. The USDEA reports that two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal, depending on a person’s body size, tolerance and past usage.
“Some call them overdoses, I call them poisonings,” said Bernard, in reference to the uptick in fentanyl-related deaths.
Some officers went undercover to purchase drugs as part of the investigation, and Bernard explained that in some instances, when officers would try to purchase drugs for investigation, they would receive fentanyl instead of the drug they asked for.
“The fentanyl we seized in this case was a little over a pound of fentanyl, and that amount of Fentanyl could kill over 200,000 individuals, and as I said, considering the population of Mon County is around 100,000, that’s the kind of an impact a drug like this can have and a case like this can have.”
To view the full press conference on the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia’s Facebook page, click here.