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Press Release

Project Charleston: Investigation Into Drug Trafficking on Charleston's West Side Nets Several Arrests and Seizure of Large Quantities of Fentanyl, Heroin and Methamphetamine

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

Charleston and Akron Drug Network Shut Down

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced several arrests today of drug traffickers operating between Charleston, West Virginia, and Akron, Ohio.  The multi-state Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) is responsible for distributing large quantities of fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine.  Joining United States Attorney Stuart in the announcement were Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) David Gourley, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Resident Agent in Charge Matthew Perry, Charleston Police Chief Steve Cooper, Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford and Chief Deputy Sheriff Greg Young, Supervisory Deputy United States Marshal Chris Leachman, as well as representatives from the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT).  

Today’s arrests are the result of a long-term investigation led by DEA and MDENT into Eugene Wells, a poly-drug distributor from Akron, Ohio, and other members of his drug trafficking organization located in Charleston.  Multiple individuals have been charged in federal criminal complaints.  During the course of the investigation, investigators made controlled purchases of methamphetamine and heroin from the Wells DTO and identified a drug stash house on Charleston’s west side. 

On September 28, 2018 DEA agents and MDENT officers executed a search warrant on Miranda Brandon’s residence on Charleston’s West Side, leading to the arrest of Wells, Brandon and Sherry Gray.  The search of Brandon’s residence resulted in the seizure of  over 600 grams of suspected fentanyl, approximately 1,400 grams of heroin and over 700 grams of methamphetamine.  Brandon, Gray, and Wells were each present at Brandon’s residence when the warrant officers executed the warrant.  Each has a prior felony conviction, and each is therefore prohibited from possessing any firearm.  Police, however, recovered four guns from Brandon’s residence.  Agents with DEA’s Cleveland District Office also executed a warrant on Wells’ Akron residence on September 28, recovering over 400 grams of heroin and four firearms.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) provided assistance during the investigation.

“287,000 people. 287,000,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “If the fentanyl in this case had hit the streets, it could have been a disaster.  I grew up with the three “R’s” – reading, writing and the road map to Akron.  Now it’s time for reading, writing and the roadmap back to Akron.  For Eugene Wells and his trafficking buddies, Akron is no longer an option.  If convicted their roadmap heads directly to the federal pen. I want to thank all of my federal, state and local partners who participated in today’s actions including the excellent investigative work of the DEA and MDENT.  I also want to thank my prosecution team led by Assistant United States Attorneys Matt Davis, Drew Inman and John Frail.”

The arrests and seizures relating to the investigation are as follows: 

  • Multiple individuals have been charged by criminal complaint in the Southern District of West Virginia with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, including fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine;
  • Over 600 grams of suspected Fentanyl were seized;
  • Approximately 1400 grams of heroin were seized;
  • Over 700 grams of methamphetamine was seized;
  • Over $12,000 in United States Currency was seized; and
  • 8 guns were seized.


“When I announced Project Charleston a little more than a month ago, I promised swift and certain action on Charleston’s West Side,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  Promise made.  Promise kept.  I intend to continue to focus federal resources on ridding the West Side of criminal elements, violent crime, drug thugs, and hooligans  that cause chaos, fear and despair for law abiding families. The days of lawlessness on the West Side are soon to end.  A basic human right is to live safely and peaceably in your home and community. We will maintain a sense of urgency until every violent element is incarcerated or driven out of Charleston.  If you are a drug dealer or criminal operating within Charleston’s West Side and we did not arrest you today, do not think for a moment that we aren’t aware of you.  We have more operations ongoing at this moment than at any time in the history of the West Side.  Let me be absolutely clear, if you are dealing drugs or causing trouble on Charleston’s West Side, we will arrest you and, if convicted, incarcerate you as long as possible.”

“The partnership between the Charleston Police Department and the United States Attorney’s Office under Mike Stuart has never been stronger,” said Police Chief Steve Cooper.   “Together we are making community in the capital city safer, one block at a time.”

“DEA remains committed to bringing violent drug traffickers to justice,” said DEA Assistant Special in Charge David Gourley.

The investigation is ongoing and could result in additional federal and state charges in the future.


Please Note:  The charges contained in the criminal complaints are merely allegations and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


SDWVNews and USAttyStuart


Updated November 5, 2018

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