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Press Release

Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Florida man pled guilty to participating in a drug conspiracy that spanned several states, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Thomas Drew Bess, 39, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

“Florida to LA to WV. Keeping this shipment of 96% pure and amazingly powerful meth from hitting the streets is a big win for law enforcement, the people of Charleston and all West Virginians,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “We are using every available resource to stem the tide of meth that is coming into our communities. Great work by the Postal Inspection Service, DEA, the National Guard and my office. That’s called real teamwork.”

On September 1, 2019, Bess flew from Florida to Los Angeles, California. While there, he mailed a package that contained approximately 18.25 pounds of methamphetamine to Charleston. The package was picked up by a John Harvey Bush, Jr., and the methamphetamine was intended to be sold in the Charleston area. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) intercepted the package on September 4, 2019. Upon obtaining a search warrant for the package, they discovered over 18 pounds of methamphetamine inside. The majority of the methamphetamine was removed, except for 11.2 grams, which remained inside the package in order to conduct a controlled delivery. As law enforcement was delivering the package, the National Guard provided helicopter surveillance of the area. Bush was recorded driving to the residence and taking the package from the front porch. He then drove the package to his girlfriend’s residence, where he unloaded and opened the package, and discovered only 11.2 grams of methamphetamine. He attempted to flush the shipping label to the package. Shortly afterwards, law enforcement knocked on the front door of the girlfriend’s residence. Bush saw them through the window and was arrested as he tried to flee out the back door. Bush’s cell phone was seized and searched pursuant to a federal search warrant, where it became apparent that Bess had told Bush of the contents of the package, its tracking number, and when it would be arriving. 

The methamphetamine was sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) laboratory, where it tested 96% pure. Bess was subsequently arrested in Florida and brought to the Southern District of West Virginia on an indictment. Bess’ phone was searched pursuant to a federal warrant, wherein evidence of drug trafficking and distribution were discovered.

Bess faces life in prison when sentenced on December 8, 2020. Bush pled guilty on January 27, 2020. He faces up to 40 years in prison when sentenced on September 21, 2020.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Postal Service - Office of Inspector General, and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) conducted the investigation. The West Virginia National Guard assisted law enforcement with the investigation. Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney L. Alexander Hamner is handling the prosecution.

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) is an independent component of the U.S. Department of Justice. Established in 1982, OCDETF is the keystone of the Attorney General’s strategy to reduce the availability of illicit narcotics throughout the United States using a prosecutor-led, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime. OCDETF agents and prosecutors nationwide handle complex investigations and prosecutions of the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States.  OCDETF facilitates joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:20-cr-00024.

 

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Updated August 24, 2020

Topic
Drug Trafficking