CHARLESTON - Thirty-five people were arrested Monday morning in Charleston as part of a joint undercover drug investigation initiated in June 2002 by the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The 18-month investigation involving the use of undercover police officers and informants targeted individuals involved in the trafficking of crack cocaine in the Charleston area, according to officials.
As a result of the investigation, state arrest warrants were obtained on 26 individuals for sale of controlled substance. A federal grand jury indicted another 19 individuals also for the sale of controlled substance.
"The arrests began early this morning, approximately 6 a.m.," said Jennifer B. Raffety, Mississippi County prosecuting attorney. "The arrests were made without incident."
More than 60 officers from the SEMO Drug Task Force; DEA; Highway Patrol; Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Marshal's Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Charleston Department of Public Safety; Mississippi County Sheriff's Office and the East Prairie Police Department gathered, split up into teams and went after suspects.
By 9 a.m., authorities has apprehended 35 defendants sought on the 45 federal and state arrest warrants including eight who were already in custody on other unrelated matters. Additional arrests are pending.
"There are a few individuals who have not been located," Raffety said. "Law enforcement agencies are continuing their efforts to take these suspects into custody."
Raffety said the cooperation between her office, federal prosecutors and the various law enforcement agencies was crucial. "It was a very impressive operation," she said. "A lot of thought and effort was put into the timing of this raid."
"An investigation of this magnitude can only be undertaken through the concerted efforts of all law enforcement agencies, local, state and federal," U.S. Attorney Raymond W. Gruender said in a press release.
Those arrested on state warrants who were not already in custody were taken to the Mississippi County Detention Center and are slated to appear for arraignment Wednesday in Charleston on the crack cocaine charges.
Those indicted on federal charges were arraigned Monday in Cape Girardeau.
Federal arrest warrants were issued on the following suspects charged with distribution of 5 grams or more of cocaine base and distribution of cocaine base: Barry Boyce, 27, Keith Browning, 40, Mortis Corbett, 28, Sammy Welch; Ray Leonard Treadwell, 27, three counts distribution of 5 grams or more cocaine base and one count distribution of cocaine base; Rodney Townsend, three counts distribution of 5 grams or more cocaine base and one count of distribution of cocaine base. Charged with distribution of cocaine base were: Ervin Boyce, 26; James Jones III, 34; and Corey Owens, 32; and charged with distribution of 5 grams or more of cocaine base are: Shauntay L. Craig, 25; Mario Evans, 24 (two counts); Adrian Lewis, 23; Melvin Quinn, 26; Santago Townsend, 21 (two counts); Brian Visor, 26.
Lewis Randall, 24, is charged with aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine base, aiding and abetting the distribution of 5 grams or more of cocaine base and two counts distribution of cocaine base.
State arrest warrants were issued to the following with charges of distributing a controlled substance near public housing: Bernard Betts, 20, of Kalamazoo, Mich. (three counts); Evonne Cassell, 44, of Charleston, two counts; Larry B. McCauley, 23, of Charleston, three counts; Betty Ann McGee, 36, of Charleston, two counts; Travis Sharp II, 26, of Bertrand, two counts; and one count each for Antonio Bogan, 20, Lintrus M. Clark, 24, Lamar Haynes, 20, Emory L. Hightower, 20, Marcus Jones, 29, Teresa F. Williams, 34, Favis Wilson, 34, and Lonnie D. Woods, 30, all of Charleston.
Jesse Bogan, 37, of Charleston is charged with six counts of distribute, deliver, manufacture or attempt to possess with intent; and Jerome P. Farmer, 18, of Charleston, is charged with two counts of resisting arrest. State warrants were also issued to Robert Cassell, 19, of Charleston who is in custody in Cooper County on unrelated charges; Lonnie D. Fisher Jr. a/k/a Johnson, in custody in Cape Girardeau County on unrelated charges; and Vashon L. Rivers, 18, and Dwight Robinson, 48, both in custody with the Department of Corrections on unrelated charges.
Of the 45 individuals named in the undercover operation, 40 had prior felony convictions.
"The distribution of crack cocaine has been a growing problem in this area for the last several years. The arrests of these drug dealers will make a significant impact not only on the drug trade, but also on the associated violence," Raffety said. "We are very fortunate to live in a place where many law enforcement agencies cooperate so well with one another as we all share the common goal of cleaning up our communities. The raid (Monday) morning was a big step in this direction."