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Press Release

Operation Smoke and Mirrors Update: Two More Kanawha County Men Plead Guilty to Role in Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Today John Paul Loudermilk, 60, of Charleston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and Ryan Keith Kincaid, 46, of South Charleston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Loudermilk and Kincaid each admitted to their roles in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that operated in the Charleston area.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between January and March 2023, Loudermilk conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine by helping a co-defendant distribute methamphetamine to other customers. Loudermilk sometimes received fentanyl from the co-defendant in exchange for doing this.

Loudermilk admitted to usually meeting with the co-defendant in the Charleston area to obtain methamphetamine and fentanyl. Loudermilk further admitted to receiving between one-half ounce and 1 ounce of methamphetamine at a time from the co-defendant along with 1 gram of fentanyl, delivering the methamphetamine to customers, and collecting money from customers in exchange.

In March 2023, Kincaid conspired with other individuals to distribute quantities of cocaine in the Charleston area.  During a search of Kincaid’s apartment, approximately 11 ounces of cocaine, used drug packaging consistent with approximately 26 kilograms of cocaine, a loaded pistol, and over $400,000 in cash were seized. 

Loudermilk is scheduled to be sentenced on November 13, 2023, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, at least three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $1 million fine. Kincaid is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2023, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine.

Loudermilk and Kincaid are among 30 individuals indicted as a result of Operation Smoke and Mirrors, a major drug trafficking investigation that has yielded the largest methamphetamine seizure in West Virginia history. Law enforcement has seized well over 200 pounds of methamphetamine as well as 28 pounds of cocaine, 20 pounds of fentanyl, 18 firearms and $747,000 in cash.

More than a dozen of the defendants have pleaded guilty. Indictments against the other defendants are pending. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT), the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia National Guard Counter Drug program, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Charleston Police Department, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the Raleigh County Sheriff's Office. MDENT is composed of the Charleston Police Department, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Nitro Police Department, the St. Albans Police Department and the South Charleston Police Department.

Chief United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy B. Wolfe is prosecuting the case.

The investigation was part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The program 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. 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. 2:23-cr-31.


Updated July 12, 2023

Drug Trafficking