ASHLAND A federal grand jury has issued indictments in two of the North East Kentucky Drug Task Force's earliest cases this year.

The indictments, issued Sept. 3, are related to two separate arrests resulting from task force investigations back in January, when the federally deputized unit went into effect.

Jesse R. Baise, of Ashland, was indicted by the grand jury on one count of distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and two counts of felon in possession of firearms.

The grand jury also issued a forfeiture allegation for five guns and ammunition feds said he owned during the commission of the crimes.

Baise was busted back mid-January during a drug raid in the 1100 block of Bath Avenue in Ashland, according to police. While already on the radar of the Task Force, the DEA and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an Ashland Police patrol unit came across Baise sitting in a car near his home with a large amount of meth on him, according to police.

That led to a search warrant, which resulted in cash, guns and other goods involved in trafficking, police said.

If convicted, Baise could face life imprisonment on the distribution charge alone.

In another case, Paul E. Hart, of Ashland, was indicted on two counts of distribution of 50 or more grams of meth, one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 or more grams of meth and two gun charges.

A forfeiture allegation was also filed against Hart for two pistols and ammunition, according to the indictment.

Hart was taken into custody at the end of January at a gas station in Greenup County, according to police. The task force, along with Kentucky State Police, found more than a pound of meth on Hart at the time of his arrest, according to a news release from the time.

If convicted on the distribution charge, Hart could face up to life in prison.

Boyd County is part of the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which consists of 93 counties across Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee that receive federal funds and resources to support programs such as the task force. Within the Fivco area, Boyd is currently the only county to have that designation. Nearby Wayne and Cabell counties in West Virginia have the designation, as well a Pike County (among many others) in Kentucky.

In 2020, the Appalachia HIDTA announced the addition of Logan, Simpson and Clark counties in Kentucky for the designation.

The NEKY Task Force consists of officers from the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department, Kentucky State Police and Ashland Police.

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