6:15 PM: Many Named In ‘Operation Meltdown’ Have Been Charged Previously

Members of the SWAT Team prepare to leave the Jamestown Police Department prior to the execution of two search warrants in the morning hours March 9. During the searches, officers discovered several grams of methamphetamine, resulting in seven arrests. Two of those charged were named as part of “Operation Meltdown” involving the trafficking of methamphetamine in the area. Most of the 16 people named in the operation have been charged with crimes in the past. P-J file photo by Eric Tichy

Most of the 16 people tied to a large-scale methamphetamine ring reaching from Mexico and California to Fredonia and Jamestown have been charged in the past for various crimes committed locally.

An analysis of police reports from local agencies shows nine of the people named Tuesday in “Operation Meltdown” have been taken into custody at least once since 2014 on drug possession charges.

One was found with almost a half-pound of methamphetamine and a pound of marijuana in 2016.

And another was arrested late last year by Jamestown police for firing a gun inside a home with two young children inside.

The agencies involved in exposing the methamphetamine conspiracy — including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI and local police — are hoping federal indictments will keep some of the repeat offenders off the streets.

“These are some of the names that, as far as the local media goes, that we see on a routine basis,” Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings said last week. “Anytime there’s been the opportunity to charge federally we’ve been pursuing that over the last couple of years. I think the local media has seen that and there’s a reason — we’re getting real sentences at the federal level.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Tuesday announced federal charges to eight area residents for possession and intent to distribute about 50 grams methamphetamine. Of those eight, only one had not been arrested recently by police.

The other seven have been charged as recently as April.

In all, all but two of the 16 have faced charges for crimes in Chautauqua County.

See tomorrow’s edition of The Sunday Post-Journal for complete coverage.