UPDATE (3:50 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22): Several members of West Virginia law enforcement gathered with US Attorney Will Thompson to announce efforts made during what they’re calling “Operation Smoke and Mirrors.”
Thompson said that a federal grand jury returned three indictments charging 30 people for their roles in a drug trafficking organization that dealt large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl in the Charleston area. They also charged another 24 people in state criminal complaints.
According to officials, 50 search warrants were obtained after an eight-month-long investigation, and several of those search warrants were executed in the last 48 hours, including Wednesday morning.
They seized more than 200 pounds of methamphetamine along with 28 pounds of cocaine, 20 pounds of fentanyl, 18 firearms, and $747,000 in cash.
“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.”
The operation included 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 includes 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.
Those charged include 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.
14 of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and the indictment attributes 500 grams or more of meth to Jeffries, Davis, McCauly, Robert, and Snead. It also attributes 50 grams or more to Funderburk. Six of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, and six of them were charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
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, were charged in a separate one-count federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Eight other people were previously indicted as part of this operation: 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.
Court records say Justin Allen Bowen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine on February 23, 2023, and Larry Wayne Legg pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on March 6, 2023. The rest of the defendants will stand trial on April 25, 2023.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jeremy B. Wolfe is prosecuting the case.
A spokesperson from the FBI says that they are still looking for three people facing federal charges: Deayria Willis, Perry Johnson, and Dashounieque Wright. Anyone with information on their whereabouts should contact 1-800-CALL-FBI. They say that Wright and Johnson have ties to the Detroit area.
The FBI says there are also five people that are facing state charges. If anyone has information about the whereabouts of the people in the photos below, they should contact the Charleston Police Department at 304-348-6400. Their names are Tammy Belcher, Zachary Harrison, Jermain Hill, Michael Jeffries, and David Holmes II.
“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.”
UPDATE (11:25 a.m. on Wednesday, March 22): US Attorney Will Thompson’s office plans to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon during which they say they will announce the “largest methamphetamine seizure in West Virginia history.”
CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)—There was a large police presence at the FBI building in Charleston on Wednesday morning.
Not much is known about the situation, but a spokesperson from the FBI confirmed that there was law enforcement activity in the area.
The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office said that their SWAT team assisted the FBI in executing arrest warrants, but the details of those arrests will need to be released by the FBI.
The FBI says they expect to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
This is a developing story, and we will provide updates as new information becomes available.