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14 charged in alleged Jefferson Co. heroin trafficking conspiracy

Updated: Friday, December 20 2013, 09:30 PM EST

6 suspects face federal charges; 8 charged in state court

By: NEWS9, Jon Rudder and Ryan Eldredge

More than a dozen people have been named as suspects in an alleged heroin trafficking conspiracy in Jefferson County after a two-year investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement.

Officials said six people were indicted on federal drug trafficking and gun charges that are punishable by at least 15 years in prison. Eight others have been charged by a Jefferson County grand jury.

According to a news release from Carter M. Stewart, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, the following are named in the federal indictment:

-Kinlawyed Hendrix, aka "Lo," 27, of Steubenville

-Calvin D. Bryant Jr., aka "Gunz," 26, of Canton, Ohio

-Robert L. Simmons Jr., aka "Chase," 19, of Steubenville

-Jessie O. Birden, aka "J-Money," 21, of Steubenville

-Berryon F. Moore III, aka "Pumpkin," 25, of Steubenville

-Joseph L. Dennis, aka "JD," 30, of Toronto, Ohio

Carter, FBI Special Agent in Charge Kevin R. Cornelius, Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane M. Hanlin, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla and Steubenville Police Chief Bill McCafferty announced the charges Friday after early-morning efforts to locate and arrest the suspects.

Around 6:30 a.m., about 40 members of various law enforcement agencies simultaneously conducted multiple raids at a number of locations in Jefferson County. Over the course of 3 ½ hours, eight suspects were arrested.

"There were three separate teams that went out into the community with a list of people that were indicted on both the state level and the federal level. They divided themselves into three teams in an effort to secure as many of these individuals at one time as we could,” Hanlin said. "It takes a significant amount of effort -- you're talking about having local and federal, and different state organizations. So, we have had a series of meetings about how we could conduct this roundup of individuals."

For the six suspects who were indicted, officials said it’s only a matter of time before they’re in custody.

The federal indictment charges the six defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin, a crime punishable by at least 10 years and up to life in prison. The indictment also charges all defendants except Dennis with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.

Hendrix is charged with two gun counts. That crime carries a punishment of at least five years and up to 40 years in prison, served consecutive to any time served for the heroin trafficking.

"The federal indictment is a result of an ongoing investigation into heroin trafficking and the related gun violence in the Ohio Valley," Stewart said in the news release. "We will continue with a regional approach to investigate the sources of the illegal drugs and guns."

"These indictments are the result of great cooperation between local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies dedicated to making this community a better place in which to live," Cornelius said.

Hanlin said, "This investigation is a primary example of the success that can be achieved through cooperation between local and federal law enforcement. These arrests mark a significant turning point in our ongoing battle against the heroin trade in our area."

All federal defendants will appear before a U.S. Magistrate judge in Columbus, who will determine whether or not to hold them without bond until trial.

In addition to those charged federally, Hanlin said that a Jefferson County grand jury indicted the following people:

-Lavinia Hearon, 29, of, Chicago, tampering with evidence
-Jacari Benson, 30, of Weirton, trafficking in heroin

-Frederick L. McGowan, 39, of Madison Wis., possession of heroin, possession of cocaine

-Robert Jackson, 32, of Steubenville, two counts of trafficking in heroin (Forfeiture: $1,669)

-Harry E. Stackhouse, 25, of Steubenville, two counts of trafficking in heroin

-Rashann D. Mukes, 28, of Steubenville, trafficking in heroin in the presence of a juvenile (gun specifications) (Forfeiture: $6,716)

-Kyle M. Irvin, 29, of Chicago, trafficking in heroin (Forfeiture: $10,723)

-Charles Henry Thompson, 24, of Chicago, trafficking in heroin (Forfeiture: $10,010) and two counts of having a weapon under disability

Officials allege that this drug organization transported more than 23 kilograms of heroin from Chicago for distribution in the Steubenville area over the two-year period.
This is certainly the largest heroin investigation we've had in terms of the depth we've been able to go to reach so many members of this organization and bring them all into custody at the same time,” Hanlin said.

Officials said that their work is not complete and, to defeat a drug trafficking network, it takes a network of law enforcement committed to ratifying the problem

"We're not going to be able to come to you today and say, ‘We have eradicated the heroin problem.' But this is certainly a great first step and it puts a significant dent into that organization."

Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by the Jefferson County Drug Task Force, whose members include the DEA in addition to the agencies named above, and the assistance of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in the investigation.

The U.S. Marshals Service participated in the arrests.

Stewart also acknowledged the assistance of the Brooke-Hancock-Weirton Drug Task Force and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hunter, who is prosecuting the case.

Stay with NEWS9 and WTOV9.com for continuing coverage.

14 charged in alleged Jefferson Co. heroin trafficking conspiracy

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