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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Two defendants headed to prison for methamphetamine trafficking crimes

Defendant from Charleston and Las Vegas arrested with significant amounts of drugs and over $30,000 sentenced to 14 years; South Charleston man caught driving with 1.7 pounds of crystal methamphetamine hidden underneath the car sentenced to over 10 years

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Two defendants were sentenced to federal prison today for their roles in a methamphetamine trafficking organization, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Joseph Cooper, 41, of Charleston and Las Vegas, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for possession of 50 or more grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Benjamin Childers, 41, of South Charleston, was sentenced to 10 years and a month in prison for conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Law enforcement pulled Cooper over on January 20, 2016, in St. Albans, and seized over 170 grams of methamphetamine, 70 grams of crack, and over $30,000 in cash from the car. Cooper admitted that he intended to distribute the methamphetamine throughout the Southern West Virginia area.

Officers pulled over Childers in Kansas on November 14, 2015, and located approximately 1.7 pounds of crystal methamphetamine hidden underneath the vehicle. Lab testing confirmed that the crystal methamphetamine seized by law enforcement was 90% pure. Childers admitted that he was part of a conspiracy that involved Joseph Cooper to bring methamphetamine from Nevada for distribution in and around Charleston.

As part of this comprehensive drug investigation, three other codefendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Morgan Light, of Charleston and Las Vegas, Mark Cobb, of St. Albans, and Shayne Shamblen, of St. Albans, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Light, Cobb, and Shamblen each admitted that they worked with Joseph Cooper to arrange for the shipment and transport of methamphetamine to West Virginia. Light, Cobb, and Shamblen each face up to 20 years in federal prison when they are sentenced on February 2, 2017.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team, and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Haley Bunn is in charge of these prosecutions. United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., imposed the sentences and is presiding over these cases.

This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.

Drug Trafficking
Updated January 19, 2017