Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 7, 2013

Drug roundup charges 21

PRINCETON — Law enforcement officers of the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force are currently conducting a drug sweep in Mercer County, according to Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash.

“We’re here to announce the fruits of months of investigations,” Ash said during a press conference Friday in the large conference room of the prosecutor’s office. Ash said that early Friday morning, the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, began arresting suspects in “21 cases of dealing in Mercer County” involving “cocaine, hydromorphone and one case of heroin,” Ash said.

In addition to Ash, other law enforcement officers at the press conference included Mercer County Sheriff D.B. “Don” Meadows, Sgt. M.S. Haynes of the West Virginia State Police, Princeton Police Chief J.W. Howell and Bluefield Police Chief D.M. Dillow.

The Mercer County prosecutor’s office released the following 12 names of the 21 individuals named in warrants as part of the drug roundup. Subjects taken into custody included: Harry Thomas Hanley, 27, of Bluefield; Jimmy Dale Wright, 56, of Rock; Eric Hendricks, 37, of Bluefield; Ronald Hart, 42, of Montcalm; Gerald Browning, 46, of Montcalm; and Travis Mullins, 21, of Montcalm, all on charges of delivery of hydromorphone.

Other suspects include Remuel Porterfield, 22, of Princeton; Jaumar Jones, 32, of Bluefield; and Earl Sims, 38, of Bluefield, all for delivery of Cocaine; Andre Bryant, 24, of Bluefield for delivery of hydromorphone and cocaine; and Elijah Jones, 35, of McDowell County, for delivery of cocaine and heroin. According to Ash, another suspect, Darnell Younger, 25, of Bluefield, was arrested later in the afternoon and charged with delivery of cocaine.

Ash praised the “great energy” of State Police Sgt. J.S. McCarty, head of the drug task force, and praised the regional cooperation of all of the agencies involved in the task force. He added that while some of the cases included in the roundup may be taken into the federal courts, several cases could not be considered in the “Bluefield Pill Initiative,” and added, “at some point, we have to carry the ball too.”

Meadows said that officers started arresting subjects at about 6 a.m. He added that the task force developed at least one of the cases over a two-month period. “We depend on our representative on the task force,” Meadows said. “We have been recognized as one of the best task forces in the state.”

Dillow said that it takes time for law enforcement officers to develop a solid case against any suspects. “When you call, the information is gathered and passed on to the task force for them to develop,” Dillow said. He emphasized that the task force has expertise on developing drug cases.

Howell said that the task force has about a 100 percent conviction rate on the cases that they investigate. “The task force develops cases that are so good that when the arrests are made, the person charged usually pleads guilty.”

Haynes said that because the task force is made up of officers who have worked on the drug problem as an issue, they can work cases that extend beyond jurisdictional boundaries. “They work all of these counties,” Haynes said. “It has worked well for a long time.”

The task force includes officers from the Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming county sheriff’s departments, the police departments of Princeton and Bluefield and the West Virginia State Police.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com,

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