HUNTINGTON — Officials last Wednesday announced the indictment of nearly two dozen people on charges they were part of drug distribution operations involving methamphetamine and heroin in Huntington, Charleston, Beckley and Ohio.

A grand jury in Beckley indicted 21 people in connection with the investigation, the results of which were unsealed Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart of the Southern District of West Virginia.

As of Wednesday evening, nine people were arrested in Huntington and Charleston and two people were arrested in Akron, Ohio. Eight people were already in custody. Stuart said police have outstanding warrants for two people in West Virginia and for two people in Ohio, which is a total of 23 people connected to the operations.

During a news conference Wednesday, Stuart said law enforcement officers have uncovered 22 pounds of meth, 300 grams of heroin, some fentanyl and 15 firearms, several of which were high-powered.

The charges were detailed in two separate indictment documents.

In one document, 12 people were indicted in connection with multiple counts of conspiracy to distribute meth, distribution of meth, using a communication device during the commission of a controlled substance offense and possession with intent to deliver meth. Those included:

Tionte Lavon Blanchard, aka “Face”; Melanie Lynne Curnutte; Mary Beth Cummings; Aaron Dean Thompson; Bruce David Angeli; Lennie T. Whisenant Jr.; Charles Vincent Hively Jr.; Niki Renee Maynard; Jordan Dewayne Jeffrey; Brad Acy Holley; Robert Von Wilson; and Kathryn Elizabeth Casto.

According to the indictment, in Huntington from fall 2018 to at least August 2019, Blanchard, Curnutte, Whisenant Jr., Holley and Von Wilson possessed more than 500 grams of meth. Cummings, Thompson, Angeli, Maynard, Jeffrey and Casto allegedly possessed more than 50 grams of meth. Hively Jr. allegedly possessed a “detectable amount” of meth.

In the second document, nine people were indicted in connection with multiple counts of conspiracy to distribute meth and heroin, possession with intent to deliver meth, distribution of meth and using a communication device during the commission of a controlled substance offense. They included:

George Devonte Langford, aka “J.P.” and “Mike”; Darla Renae Lattea; Lamark Glover, aka “Byron”; Calvin Eugene Wells Jr., aka “L.C.”; Jared Matthew Whittington; Dennis Deire Mosley Jr.; Frederick Clyde Waite; Michael Eugene Hicks; and Weston Dallas McDaniels.

According to the indictment, from June to September near Scott Depot, Langford, Lattea, Glover, Wells Jr., Mosely Jr., Waite and Hicks possessed more than 500 grams of meth. Glover and Whittington allegedly possessed more than 50 grams of meth. Langford, Wells and McDaniels also possessed more than 100 grams of heroin, according to the indictment.

Stuart said the investigation, which was dubbed Operation Flat Tire, was spearheaded by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It also involved law enforcement officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Cabell County Sheriff’s Office, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and West Virginia State Police. In all, more than 200 officers were involved in the investigation, he said.

“This case demonstrates the incredible commitment of federal, state and local law enforcement to work collaboratively and cooperatively across jurisdictional boundaries to shut down the pipeline of drugs flowing into West Virginia,” Stuart said.

Stuart said the investigation is still ongoing and more arrests may follow. He intends to request the defendants’ “immediate detention,” meaning they would be held in jail from the time of their arrests until the conclusion of their cases.

Wednesday’s announcement is the third drug investigation revealed by Stuart in less than a week. On Sept. 18, Stuart was in Beckley to announce the results of Operation Shutdown Corner, which resulted in 17 indictments as part of an alleged drug trafficking operation. On Tuesday, Stuart was in Charleston to announce the indictment of 11 doctors in connection with the alleged overprescription of opioids.

An indictment is not an indication that a person is guilty of committing a crime. An indictment indicates members of a grand jury believe there is enough evidence to facilitate a trial to determine a person’s guilt or innocence of an alleged crime.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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