CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Police said a tip from the management of a local public housing project led to a large scale drug and firearms roundup Tuesday morning.
Teamed with members of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, officers went to the three complexes which make up the Vista View Apartments on Charleston’s East End. They were armed with 19 arrest warrants and four search warrants for dealing of not only drugs, but also firearms in the public housing facility.
“This was an investigation that started around the middle of the summer. We received information from the Vista View Apartment Management and they were seeking help in the illegal distribution of narcotics. Once we started the investigation, we learned there were a lot of targets and we teamed up with the ATF,” said Tony Hazelett, Chief of Detectives with the Charleston Police Department.
As of mid-morning, officers had arrested nine of the wanted individuals and were seeking the other ten for whom they had warrants. Additionally, officers made seven more arrests on charges unrelated to the investigation. Hazelett would not comment specifically on what evidence was recovered in the execution of the search warrants. But when asked if they found drugs, guns, or money, he indicated it was a successful raid.
“I would say we were pretty successful at all three,” he answered.
Hazelett noted some of the players they were able to find in the investigation were further up the hierarchy of drug dealing than just street level dealers. The discovery of illegal firearms sales also changed the approach to the investigation and resulted in teaming up with the ATF partners.
“We had a lot of man hours in this. We had a lot of undercover operations and a lot of informant operations. This morning I’m going to estimate we had 50 law enforcement officials executing these warrants,” he explained.
The raid started at 5 a.m. Tuesday. Hazelett said it was the best time to catch those wanted individuals with their guard down, but also was well before the potential interference with children on their way to a school bus stop or school related traffic.
It’s unclear if the investigation might lead to more arrests, but Hazelett urged people to come forward with information because you never know where it might lead.
“This was just on a tip, that’s why I’m trying to urge the residents of Charleston if you have suspected drug dealing in your neighborhood, call our Special Enforcement Division. You never know where the operation will take us. This one took us to 19 arrest warrants,” he said.
The following individuals were arrested as part of the operation:
Ruth Eagle, 41 years old, of Charleston — Possession with the Intent to Deliver
Amber Griffith, 44 years old, of Charleston — Delivery of a Controlled Substance
Barbara Shamblin, 47 years old, of Charleston — Conspiracy
Stephen Hager, 45 years old, of Charleston — Possession with Intent to Deliver
Tiffany Combs, 38 years old, of Charleston — Possession with Intent to Deliver
Megan Starcher, 28 years old, of Charleston –Possession with Intent to Deliver
Araena Kersey, 30 years old, of Charleston — Possession with Intent to Deliver
Moshae Mills, 24 years old, of Charleston — Possession with Intent to Deliver
Ryan Ramsey, 48 years old, of Alton, Illinois — Conspiracy
The following individuals were arrested on warrants unrelated to the operation:
Leslie Kersey, 33 years old, of Charleston — Municipal Court Capias
Amy Nichols, 34 years old, of Elkview — Capias
Saudi Harper, 40 years old, of Charleston — Warrant- Transfer and Receiving
Zachary Harrison, 30 years old, of Charleston — Municipal Court Warrant
Kimberly Chapman, 32 years old, of Charleston — Simple Possession
Lilly Pauley, 22 years old, of Charleston — Municipal Court Warrant
Laura Waldon, 40 years old, of Charleston — Municipal Court Warrant