Cross Lanes man sentenced for role in drug trafficking group

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The last person connected to a multi-state drug trafficking group was sentenced Monday on charges related to the distribution of methamphetamine.

Leo Antoine Smith, 38, of Cross Lanes, was one of 17 people involved in the drug organization. According to U.S. Attorney Will Thompson, the scheme is tied to the distribution of 160 pounds of methamphetamine as well as fentanyl and other drugs from March 2019 to September 2021.

Kanawha County, state and federal agencies began investigating the operation in late 2020, noting the main focus of the group’s effort involved Charleston, Rand and St. Albans

“The conspirators operating in the St. Albans area primarily obtained their drugs from Louisville, Kentucky, and the Charleston-Rand area was supplied by Raymond Austin, from Atlanta, Georgia, and other dealers from Columbus, Ohio,” Thompson said Monday.

A federal jury previously found Smith guilty of conspiracy to distribute a quantity of methamphetamine. U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin issued a sentence of 140 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Thompson also noted the investigation prevented a fatal drug overdose in St. Albans and a possible murder in Charleston’s West Side community in July 2021. The men — Treydan Leon Burks, Brian Dangelo Terry, James Edward Bennett III and Douglas Johnathan Wesley — abandoned their vehicle in a Charleston parking garage when it became apparent Charleston police knew of the plan; officers had converged on the area. Police found multiple guns in the car.

As part of the investigation, authorities seized more than 12.3 pounds of methamphetamine, 34 firearms, more than $86,000 in cash and several vehicles, including three motorcycles.