Operation Smoke and Mirrors Update: Charleston Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Kentucky man was sentenced to prison today for his involvement in a fentanyl distribution ring operating in the Huntington area. Leonard Brandon Joe Rice, 35, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for using a communication facility to facilitate a felony drug offense.
According to the plea agreement and statements made in court, on May 24, 2021, Rice used a telephone to arrange the purchase of fentanyl in Huntington. Rice then traveled from Louisa, Kentucky to Huntington where he received the fentanyl. When Rice returned to Louisa, he was stopped by a trooper with the Kentucky State Police who seized the fentanyl Rice purchased. Rice admitted that he received fentanyl in Huntington from the beginning of 2020 through July of 2021. During that period, Rice redistributed some of the fentanyl he purchased in Huntington to other individuals in the Louisa, Kentucky area.
United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Southern West Virginia TOC-West Task Force. The Southern West Virginia TOC-West Task Force consists of the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department, the Hurricane Police Department, and the Marshall University Police Department, with support from the West Virginia State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Violent Crime and Drug Task Force West. The Ohio Highway Patrol, the Kentucky State Police, and the FBI and DEA in Columbus, Ohio also assisted in the investigation.
United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph F. Adams handled the prosecution.
The investigation was part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and is the keystone of the Department of Justice’s drug reduction strategy. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.
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. 3:21-cr-00109.