Federal Grand Jury Indicts Ten for Their Roles in Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization Operating in Charleston
Five Others Charged in Federal Criminal Complaints
Approximately 15 Pounds of Meth, 45 Firearms including a Fully Automatic Weapon, and More Than $375,000 Seized
CHARLESTON, W.V (STL.News) United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced that a federal grand jury has returned two indictments charging 10 individuals for their roles in a drug trafficking organization (DTO), with ties to the Bloods and Gangster Disciples criminal gangs, responsible for distributing large quantities of meth in the Charleston area. Joining Stuart for the announcement were Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Jack Sparks, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ASAC Lissa Jordan, Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt, MDENT Commander Ryan Higginbotham, U.S. Marshal Michael Baylous, and Appalachia HIDTA West Virginia State Coordinator Chad Napier.
Charged in a 15 count indictment are Jermaine Williams, 20; Tyjaha Watson, 26; Memphis Ross, 20; Dante Williams, 24; Joshua Lawson, 30; and Darius Coles, 23, all of Charleston; as well as Myreo Dixon, 34, of Michigan: Elijah Figg, 21, of Huntington; and Kassie McNeeley, 21, of Lesage. The indictment charges the nine defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in and around Charleston from July 2020 to February 2021. The indictment further charges various drug and gun crimes carried out in connection with the DTO. In a separate indictment, Erica Ratliff, 36, of Charleston, was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. During the course of the investigation, which spanned nearly a year, law enforcement seized approximately 15 pounds of methamphetamine, 45 firearms, including a fully automatic weapon, and more than $375,000 in cash.
In addition, Maylik Watson, 27, Devonte Lavauhn Andrews, 28, Sydni Watson, 29, and William Edward Byers II, 44, all of Charleston, and Jaquan Jeremiah Wright, 22, of New York, have been charged by federal criminal complaints in connection with this investigation.
“From Day 1, my priority has been keeping the good people of West Virginia safe. The West Side has been a source of violence and calamity for too long. No more,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Throughout my tenure as U.S. Attorney, I have been laser focused on improving public safety on Charleston’s West Side. My team has been committed to working with our federal, state and local partners to rid the community of violence and poison peddling. The dismantling of this network of violent meth traffickers is a big win for law enforcement and the West Side community.”
“For too long, this gang has been a blight on Charleston,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Scott, head of DEA’s Louisville Division. “Between the violent acts they’ve committed and the drugs they’ve distributed throughout the community, Maylik Watson and his associates have shown little to no regard for human life. Thanks to the dedicated men and women of DEA and our law enforcement partners, the people of Charleston can sleep more soundly, knowing these people are off the streets.”
“All too often, drug dealers use firearms to further their criminal activities,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge R. Shawn Morrow, of the Louisville Field Division. “This drug trafficking organization threatened the safety of the Charleston community with both meth and firearms . Working with our law enforcement partners, ATF provides significant resources to prosecute these offenders and remove them from our West Virginia communities.”
The long-term investigation, dubbed the “Woo Boyz,” was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Charleston Police Department, and the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT), with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and the West Virginia State Police. The Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) provided critical support to the investigative agencies.
Assistant United States Attorney Monica Coleman is handling the prosecution.
The investigation was part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and is the keystone of the Department of Justice’s drug reduction strategy. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.
Please note: An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.