JONESVILLE — For the second time this year, authorities fanned out across Lee County on Friday in an effort to stem the flow of illegal drugs. Operation STAND II (Standing Together Against Narcotic Drugs) resulted in the arrest of at least 26 suspects indicted earlier this month.
Sheriff Gary Parsons said his officers were assisted in STAND II by officers from the Southwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, Virginia State Police, Jonesville Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as they scoured the county for 39 individuals charged with a total of 90 counts of drug distribution.
Parsons said some of those arrested Friday were identified through a yearlong investigation, but his office was not ready to seek indictments against them in January when 111 accused drug dealers were hauled in. The investigation continued, and others picked up Friday were identified from information obtained in the January operation.
Friday’s operation began with officers meeting at 7 a.m. to be assigned who they were to seek out. By early afternoon more than two dozen had been picked up, with most being transported on to the Duffield Regional Jail.
Parsons said nearly all the charges are the result of hand-to-hand buys that were recorded by his officers. Funds for the buys were provided by the Virginia State Police, as two of his officers are sworn in as Virginia State Police officers, he said.
All the indictments served Friday were prepared and presented at the August grand jury by Lee County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shawn Hines, who has vowed to prosecute all of the cases as vigorously as possible, said the sheriff.
“It is the excellent partnership we have with the commonwealth’s attorney’s office which makes this type of operation possible and successful,” said Parsons. “I have a fine team of officers who are keeping the heat turned up on drug dealers. I am very proud of the work they do each day to make our county a better and safer place to live. We have taken a substantial number of drug dealers off the streets.”
Hines said he has reviewed each of the cases, and he is confident the accused will be convicted and incarcerated.
“These are all very strong cases for the commonwealth, and we look forward to giving each of the defendants their day in court. We’ve gotten a lot of good sentences from the court lately, and we look for that trend to continue. We absolutely will continue to try and make cases to keep drugs off the streets of Lee County,” said Hines.
Parsons said the 13 subjects still to be located will have their information entered into the National Criminal Information Center and the Virginia Criminal Information Network to ensure they will be found and charged.
Those arrested on Friday, and their charges, include:
• Terry Douglas Ballard, 49, Pennington Gap, three counts distribution, one count of possession.
• Summer Nicole Freeman, 22, Jonesville, two counts distribution.
• Floyd Freeman, 50, Jonesville, one count distribution.
• Joyce Hopkins, 41, Jonesville, three counts distribution.
• Michelle Biggs, 39, Pennington Gap, one count distribution, one count conspiracy.
• Kayla Ray, 20, Rose Hill, three counts distribution, two counts conspiracy.
• Gerrit Bothof, 39, Rose Hill, four counts distribution, two counts conspiracy.
• James R. Maddle, 49, St. Charles, two counts distribution.
• Gary Herron, 46, Pennington Gap, two counts distribution.
• Juanita Neal, 41, Rose Hill, one count distribution.
• Daniel Ryan Cox, 20, Pennington Gap, three counts distribution, one count conspiracy.
• David Cox, 21, St. Charles, two counts distribution.
• Billy Jo Milsap, 54, Pennington Gap, one count distribution.
• Edward Schaeffer, 37, Jonesville, one count distribution.
• Gary Vermillion, 48, Jonesville, two counts distribution.
• James Johnson, 39, Pennington Gap, one count possession.
• John Tabor, 42, St. Charles, one count distribution, one count petit larceny.
• Melissa Stapleton, 31, Pennington Gap, one count distribution, one count conspiracy.
• Daniel E. Rivers, 50, Church Hill, Tenn., three counts possession.
• David McFarland, 54, Pennington Gap, one count possession.
• Tanya Garrett Harvey, 30, Pennington Gap, one count distribution.
• Robert Kenneth Turner, 40, Pennington Gap, three counts distribution.
• Angela Michelle Harless, 33, Jonesville, two counts distribution.
• Sherry Harless Ely, 34, Norton, one count distribution.
• Everett Green, 33, Pennington Gap, one count distribution.
• Ezra Rogers, 28, Jonesville, one count distribution.
An indictment is not an indication of guilt, and trials for the accused will be scheduled at a later date.