ASHLAND With two guilty pleas and a sentencing in federal court Monday, the Tri-State Narcotics Team’s work is paying off, according to the top dog of the West Virginia DEA.
Agent Jack Sparks said the court action is a “a big win” for the TNT, which has seen booming business in Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties on this side of the river, as well as in Kenova and Huntington.
“They’re out here working every day,” Sparks said. “We have federal drug agents and federally deputized agents working hard on the streets here in a four-, five-county area.”
While seeing results in federal court is a good thing for morale, Sparks said drug agents want to see an impact on the supply of drugs in the community.
“I think these actions in court are good, but I think what we are about is making a difference in our community,” he said. “Since January, we’ve seized 10 pounds of meth and 4 pounds of fentanyl. That’s a lot of drugs off the street.”
Sparks continued, “It’s a new day here in this area and it’s a bad time to be a drug trafficker.”
The main challenge in the area, according to Sparks, is crushing the pipeline of drugs coming out of Huntington, which is fed by large cities in Michigan and Ohio, Sparks said.
The TNT is comprised of investigators from the Boyd County Sheriff’s Office, Cabell County Sheriff’s Office, Raceland Police, Russell Police and the DEA.
Sentencing: Christopher Moland
Moland, 34, of Westwood, was wrapped in a 2019 investigation that resulted in an arrest over in Kenton County during a traffic stop. Moland pleaded guilty last year to a federal drug conspiracy charge for driving 57-year-old Kenneth Hunt on a run to Cincinnati to re-up on approximately 4 ounces of meth, according to court records.
On Monday, a federal district court judge in Ashland sentenced Moland to serve five years and six months in the federal pen for his part in the case.
In a sentencing memorandum filed with the court by his defense attorney, Moland asked for the judge to run his sentence concurrently to a four-year bid he’s serving in state court for providing a false name to police when he was pulled over in the 2019 bust.
He was charged and convicted with identity theft in that case, according to court records.
The story told in the sentencing memorandum paints a pretty typical picture of opiate addiction in the area — Moland was raised by his grandparents due to an absent father and a mother struggling with substance abuse. After the death of his grandparents, he “began to spiral,” according to the memorandum, and a football injury got him hooked on pills in high school, records show.
“He became addicted and his criminal record reflects the problems this caused,” the memorandum stated. “During his battle with substance abuse and a criminal charge, Christopher was offered treatment on one occasion and he absconded from the facility after one day. Therefore, Christopher has never received meaningful substance abuse treatment.”
An assistant U.S. Attorney pointed out in her memorandum that the issue of identity theft — providing a false name — had nothing to do with the drug conspiracy charge, therefore the judge did not have to run Moland’s sentence concurrent with the state sentence. She also pointed to Moland’s criminal history and second chances.
“A review of Moland’s prior criminal history shows that despite the seriousness and frequency of his prior offenses he did not spend a significant amount of time incarcerated,” a court filing stated. “He was shown leniency in the state court system and given opportunities for rehabilitation services, yet he was not deterred from his criminal behavior.”
The judge ultimately sided with the federal government and ran the sentence consecutive to the state court case.
Guilty Plea: Lamon Tolbert
Tolbert, 27, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
Tolbert was hemmed up on state court charges over the summer after a sting conducted by a Boyd County deputy working in conjunction with the TNT. He was later indicted in federal court on the charges.
According to his plea agreement, a sheriff’s deputy arranged the buy on Aug. 26 in Ashland through a confidential informant. The informant told the deputy Tolbert was delivering 4 ounces of meth to Ashland, court records show.
So the deputy set the informant up with a wire and some buy money — the deputy showed up with him as a “buyer,” according to the agreement.
After seeing the meth, the deputy arrested Tolbert and seized 140 grams of meth and 3.32 grams of fentanyl.
Tolbert has been scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 9. He faces 10 years to life in prison and up to $10 million in fines, according to the agreement.
Guilty Plea: Marquis Glass
Less than three months after his arrest, the man at the center of the biggest drug bust to date in Russell city limits has pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge.
Marquis S. Glass, 29, of Detroit, entered a guilty to plea to possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams of meth. He now faces 10 years to life and up to $10 million in fines.
Court records show the TNT got onto his heels after a tip-off by an observant manager at the Best Western in Russell.
On Jan. 31, TNT agents conducted surveillance on a Glass’s room, confirmed he was staying there and smelled marijuana emitting from it. The following day, TNT officers busted out a search warrant on the hotel room and turned up 3 pounds of meth, scales and $7,339 in cash.
Court records show at the time of his arrest, Glass said, “You got me red-handed and can I plead guilty?”
Apparently, Glass got his wish Monday.
He is set for sentencing for July 27, according to court records.
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