Updated: Sweeping Raids Tied To Meth Trafficking

Members of several local, state and federal agencies discuss "Operation Melt Down," a large-scale drug trafficking ring that brought methamphetamine from Mexico to California and eventually Western New York. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

A large-scale drug conspiracy that brought methamphetamine originating from Mexico into Jamestown for the past several years was exposed in numerous sweeping area raids.

During a press conference Tuesday at City Hall in Jamestown, Joseph Karaszewski, criminal chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, announced federal indictments for many of the people involved in the trafficking of methamphetamine in the area. The conspiracy dates as far back as 2013, though current charges stem from an investigation of drug trafficking from November 2017 to last week.

A federal grand jury indicted eight people tied to the conspiracy in what local, state and federal agencies dubbed “Operation Melt Down.” Included in the federal indictment announced Tuesday are: Danny W. Michael III, Alexis V. Hall, Andrew C. Bennett, Searcy E. Fields, Jacob A. Motherwell, Michael A. Davis and Stacie N. Yancer, all of Jamestown, and Randolph resident Destiny J. Hare. They are being held on charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute at least 50 grams of methamphetamine.

In addition, Karaszewski said Jamell Trapp and Marcus Bowman, both of Fredonia, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, as well as possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

Federal prosecutors said Trapp is a member of a “multi-state drug trafficking organization” suspected of trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine. Police believe the drugs were manufactured in Mexico and shipped to California before arriving in Western New York, including Jamestown.

Some of those tied to Operation Melt Down were taken into custody Monday. Members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI and United States Postal Inspection Service conducted a controlled delivery of a parcel to Trapp’s residence at 18 Wisteria Drive in Fredonia. The original package containing methamphetamine was intercepted by the Postal Inspector Service on June 15 and replaced with fake product.

Bowman reportedly accepted the package, and both he and Trapp were later taken into custody, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Taken into custody Tuesday in numerous raids were Hall, Hare, Bennett, Fields and Motherwell. During a search of their homes, police recovered 1 pound of suspected crystal methamphetamine, pills, drug paraphernalia, 20 cellphones, a laptop and about $3,000 in cash.

Yancer, Davis and Michael already were in police custody when the new charges were announced.

P-J file photo

Six local residents also were taken into custody on charges of conspiracy to distribute of methamphetamine through state search warrants. They are Evan Motherwell, Tina L. Motherwell, Joey A. Weise, Christina L. Dean, Jarried M. Dean and Richard S. Dean.

Karaszewski said the six are involved in the “distribution of methamphetamine” in the Jamestown area.

The overall investigation involved the execution of federal and state search warrants at homes in Jamestown, Fredonia and Randolph. Karaszewski said more than 7 pounds of methamphetamine was seized by local agencies in Operation Melt Down.

During Tuesday’s press conference Karaszewski noted in 2016, more than 7,500 people in the country died as the result of a methamphetamine overdose.

“It remains a serious problem in our country and in our community,” he said.