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Two Mercer County Pill Dealers Plead Guilty as Anti-Pill Sweep Continues

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U. S. Attorney Booth Goodwin today announced the 22nd and 23rd convictions in the Bluefield Pill Initiative, as two Mercer County men pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of illegally distributing prescription drugs.  The two dealers admitted to selling a total of over 2200 pills.

“With these two convictions, our message is even louder:  Pill dealers aren’t welcome in southern West Virginia,” said Goodwin. “Criminals like these are poisoning our communities.  Our Bluefield Pill Initiative is the clearest possible way of telling them to stop it, or else.”  

Benjamin Jamalle Lane, 35, of Mercer Co., W.Va., pleaded guilty to distributing oxycodone.  Lane admitted that on February 29, 2012, he sold two 30-milligram oxycodone pills, also known as “Roxicodone,” to a person cooperating with law enforcement authorities.  Lane further admitted that on March 5 and March 12, 2012 he sold two 30-milligram oxycodone pills to a confidential informant.  The defendant also admitted that each of the illegal pill transactions took place near Montcalm, Mercer County, W.Va.  Lane admitted that he is responsible for distributing a total of 480 30-milligram pills over a four-month period.     

Andrae Cortez Simmons, 38, of Princeton, W.Va., pleaded guilty to distributing oxymorphone, also known as “Opana.” Simmons admitted that on February 14, 2012, he distributed 40 pills containing oxymorphone to individuals cooperating with law enforcement authorities.  The illegal pill transaction took place at a residence near Princeton, Mercer County, W.Va.  Simmons further admitted that he is responsible for selling a total of approximately 1760 oxymorphone pills over a several month period.   

Lane and Simmons each face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when they are sentenced on November 29, 2012, by United States District Judge Irene C. Berger. 

Since June 2011, twenty-three individuals have been convicted for illegally distributing prescription drugs and other illegal narcotics as part of the Bluefield Pill Initiative (BPI).  Sixteen of the defendants convicted as part of BPI have been sentenced. The remaining five defendants have previously pleaded guilty and await sentencing.  

The Bluefield Pill Initiative is a collaborative, multi-agency regional law enforcement effort designed to halt prescription drug trafficking in Mercer, McDowell, and Wyoming Counties.  The Bluefield Pill Initiative is led by the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, which includes the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation; the Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming County Sheriff’s Departments, and the Bluefield and Princeton Police Departments.  Assistant United States Attorneys Miller Bushong and John File are in charge of the prosecutions.  

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