Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 22, 2013

Officers seek suspect in moonshine, marijuana bust

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PAYNESVILLE — Officers in McDowell County are still looking for a subject involved in a recent bust of marijuana, moonshine and prescription pills near the West Virginia-Virginia border.

McDowell County Sheriff Martin West said Wednesday officers are still looking for Lewis Rueben Lester, 70, of Paynesville. Lester is the owner of the property where the moonshine still and marijuana was found and West said warrants have been issued for Lester on four counts of delivery of a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy.

West said Lester’s daughter Melissa Leann Lester, 25, of Paynesville, was arrested on the scene after being charged with one count of operating a moonshine still, one count of cultivation of marijuana, five counts of delivery of a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy.

Melissa Lester was arraigned before Magistrate Richard VanDyke where a $75,000 bond was set. Melissa Lester has since bonded out of custody.

West said the discovery of the still and marijuana occurred after a tip was delivered to the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office. Multiple officers from West Virginia and Virginia descended upon the Paynesville area at 5 p.m. on Aug. 15.

West said the search of a horse rink and property owned by Lewis Rueben Lester yielded between 50 and 100 marijuana plants between 15 and 18 feet tall as well as a fully operational moonshine still.

Moonshine was found hidden under hay bales in a nearby barn, West said. Sgt. C.F. Kane, detachment commander of the West Virginia State Police Welch detachment, said approximately 200 gallons of illegal spirits were found at the site. West said a large number of prescription pills as well as a firearm were also seized from the property.

West the bust was the result of an investigation that has been ongoing for several months.

In addition to the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, West Virginia State Police, Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, and Virginia 29th Judicial Regional Drug Task Force all participated in the bust.

Anyone with information about Lewis Rueben Lester is urged to contact the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office at 304-436-8526 or West Virginia State Police Welch Detachment at 304-436-2101.

— Contact Kate Coil at