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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          Jan. 31, 2013                   

CHARLESTON MAN SENTENCED TO 6 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON AS PART OF YEARLONG DRUG CRACKDOWN ON CHARLESTON’S WEST SIDE

Saunders is the second defendant to be sentenced recently as part of Charleston’s West Side DMI initiative

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin today announced that a Charleston man was sentenced to six years in federal prison for distributing crack cocaine.  Matthew Saunders, 20, of Charleston, previously pleaded guilty in October 2012.

Saunders admitted that on June 30, 2011, he sold a quantity of crack cocaine to a confidential informant working with the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT) in exchange for $1,200.  Saunders further admitted that on July 7 and July 14, 2011, he sold a quantity of crack cocaine to an informant.  All of the illegal transactions occurred near Grant and Russell Streets in Charleston. 
On July 18, 2011, law enforcement officers seized crack cocaine from a residence in Charleston.  Saunders admitted that he had arranged to sell two ounces of the crack cocaine that was seized by law enforcement.  Saunders was apprehended prior to arriving at the residence to obtain the crack cocaine. 

The suspected crack cocaine base from the three controlled buys and the quantity of crack cocaine seized from the search of the residence was submitted to the West Virginia State Police Laboratory for analysis and proved to be crack cocaine weighing 23.2 grams, 22.9 grams, and 27.2 grams, respectively.  Saunders admitted that he was responsible for selling a total of 142.23 grams of crack cocaine. 

Last Friday, Fred Taylor, 23, of Charleston, was sentenced to five years in prison for distributing crack cocaine. Taylor was prosecuted as part of the Charleston area’s Drug Market Intervention (DMI) initiative.

The Saunders case was also prosecuted as part of the Charleston area’s Drug Market Intervention (DMI) initiative. The DMI initiative was launched in February 2012 by Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster and U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, in collaboration with Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants, other federal, state, local law enforcement agencies and leaders representing several West Side community development organizations. The DMI initiative was initiated in Charleston as a strategic problem-solving effort aimed at closing down open-air drug markets that breed crimes of violence and disorder.

The Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT) conducted the investigations.  Assistant United States Attorney John Frail handled the prosecution. 

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