Drug trafficking investigation leads to 18 indictments

Local News

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Eighteen people are facing charges connected to a drug trafficking organization (DTO) in Huntington.

According to Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia (USAWVS) Lisa Johnston’s office, a federal grand jury indicted the 18 people yesterday, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, following a lengthy investigation. Officials say 14 of the suspects have been arrested today after law enforcement and federal agencies executed arrest and search warrants in “numerous locations in and around Huntington.”

“This DTO utilized multiple residences throughout Huntington to store and prepare various drugs for distribution. Other individuals in the conspiracy distributed and or assisted in the distribution of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, cocaine base (crack), oxycodone and heroin in the Huntington area and other locations in West Virginia,” the USAWVS office said.

Seventeen of the suspects have been charged with conspiracy to distribute “a variety of drugs” including heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, cocaine base and oxycodone. The indictment lists other charges including “the distribution and possession with intent to distribute” various drugs and “using a telephone to facilitate a felony drug trafficking offense.”

Along with the warrants and arrests today, the USAWVS office also says federal agents conducted a search warrant in Columbus, Ohio, last week. That search ended in law enforcement seizing approximately 36 pounds of fentanyl as well as the arrest of Brayan Luces, 24, of Columbus, Ohio.

According to the indictment, Luces allegedly “frequently supplied” another suspect, identified as William Raeshaun Byrd, 31, of Huntington, with “large quantities” of fentanyl and cocaine. Authorities say the alleged multi-kilogram shipments of the two drugs were transported from Columbus to Huntington by vehicle.

“The hard work and dedication of our law enforcement partners has led to the disruption of this dangerous DTO that was distributing large amounts of illegal drugs in the Huntington area,” said Johnston.  “I want to thank the FBI and our federal, state, and local partners that conducted the lengthy investigation and the many law enforcement officers who assisted in today’s takedown. Our efforts in this case should reassure the people of Huntington that we will continue to work tirelessly to identify and prosecute drug dealers at all levels in order to keep our communities safe.”

The USAWVS office says the indictment also alleges Byrd then supplied multiple people, including a suspect identified as Christopher Leon Vest, 33, of Huntington, with the drugs. Law enforcement say Vest also allegedly distributed fentanyl and methamphetamine to other individuals identified as Scott Lee Midkiff, 35, of Huntington and Erica Antoinette Kirker, 34, of Huntington.

According to law enforcement, Byrd, Vest, Midkiff and Kirker are all accused of allegedly distributing “significant quantities” of fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine to other alleged drug dealers in the Huntington area.

“The suspects charged in this indictment made a business out of selling dangerous, illegal drugs. Today’s arrests send the message that their business venture is over. We will not tolerate brazen drug dealers operating in plain view near schools and in the community we all call home.”

FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall

“The Cabell County Sheriff’s Department is proud to have participated in this long-term drug investigation with the FBI and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” said Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle.  “Through our collaborative efforts, we have removed many drug dealers from our streets, some of which have plagued our community for over 10 years.”

Those facing charges in the investigation include:

  • William Raeshaun Byrd, 31, of Huntington
  • Marvin Jerome Calvin, 40, of Huntington
  • Mark Anthony Chandler, 30, of Huntington
  • Kimberly Ann Combs, 44, of Huntington
  • Robert Lamont Congleton, 41, of Huntington
  • Reginald Jerome Hairston, 43, of Huntington
  • Marcus Allen Johnson, 37, of Huntington
  • Erica Antoinette Kirker, 34, of Huntington
  • Brayan Luces, 24, Columbus, of OH
  • Aaron Scott Midkiff, 36, of Huntington
  • Edward Shane Midkiff, 34, of Huntington
  • Scott Lee Midkiff, 35, of Huntington
  • William Edward Nellons, Jr., 37, of Huntington
  • Leonard Brandon Joe Rice, 34, of Louisa, KY
  • Dennis Wayne Snyder, 31, of Hurricane
  • Ricky Lee Taylor, 57, of Charleston
  • Christopher Leon Vest, 33, of Huntington
  • Dillon Andrew Young, 28, of Sissonville

Law enforcement agencies who investigated the case include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Southern West Virginia TOC-West Task Force, which consists of the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department, the Hurricane Police Department, and the Marshall University Police Department, with support from the West Virginia State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Violent Crime and Drug Task Force West. The Ohio Highway Patrol, the Kentucky State Police, and the FBI and DEA in Columbus also helped in the investigation.

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