Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to Herald-Dispatch.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

HUNTINGTON — Two men in unrelated cases pleaded guilty in a Huntington federal court Monday to 2019 drug charges.

Johnny Ray Francis III, 19, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

His arrest came June 12, 2019, during a warrant search at a home in the 1200 block of 26th Street in Huntington in connection with an investigation into a drive-by shooting in Huntington during which a red truck and black SUV exchanged gunfire in a roadway.

As part of his plea, Francis admitted he had been in that home at the time of the raid and that he possessed a plastic baggie containing 8 grams of heroin and a Glock 23, 40 caliber/9 mm pistol.

He admitted he had intended to sell the heroin and he possessed the firearm for protection during those sales.

In an unrelated case, Donta Cole, 24, of Southfield, Michigan, pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute crack cocaine.

According to U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart, Cole admitted he was the passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over April 26, 2019, by the West Virginia State Police. Upon searching Cole, the trooper found 12 grams of crack cocaine hidden in the defendant’s groin area. Cole admitted he had intended to sell the drug.

Francis faces a five- to 40-year prison sentence, while Cole faces up to 20 years in federal prison at their Sept. 28 sentencings.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.