PADUCAH — McCracken County Sheriff Ryan Norman announced the results of a months-long, inter-agency investigation on Friday, May 5, leading to 16 people charged in association with fentanyl trafficking.
Seven agencies assisted the county: the County Attorney’s Office, Paducah Police, the DEA, and the Livingston, Graves, Marshall and Obion, Tennessee, County Sheriff’s Offices.
During a courthouse press conference, Norman said the investigation began in February when Livingston County deputies responded to a 23-year-old Ledbetter man’s fatal overdose.
“Digital evidence revealed two women had provided the man with fentanyl pills here in McCracken,” Norman said. “Over the next three months, drug detectives, with the assistance of the other-named agencies, were able to identify the source of the fentanyl pills that led to the overdose death.
“The investigation revealed, for the last six months, illegal drugs had been imported into our area from Denver, Colorado. This poison was brought to our area under the direction of 32-year-old Kendrick Owens in Mayfield. The drugs were then sold here in western Kentucky by Owens and others.”
As of Friday, Norman said an outstanding warrant on Owens remained on charges of engaging in organized crime, conspiracy to trafficking in fentanyl and being a first-degree persistent felony offender.
James Farmer, 29, of Boaz is charged with engaging in organized crime, trafficking in fentanyl and tampering with physical evidence. Norman said Farmer is currently seeking treatment and will be arrested after.
Other arrests announced Friday included:
• Amberly Alexander, 23, of Paducah, on engaging in organized crime, trafficking in fentanyl and second-degree manslaughter.
• Frankus Cherry, 29, of Mayfield, on engaging in organized crime and trafficking in fentanyl.
• David Roberson, 33, Mayfield, on engaging in organized crime and conspiracy to trafficking in fentanyl.
• Bradley Clabough, 38, of Paducah, on engaging in organized crime, possession of fentanyl and trafficking in methamphetamine.
• Tesla Fisher, 28, of Paducah, on engaging in organized crime, possession of fentanyl and trafficking in methamphetamine.
• Tyler Dennison, 27, of Paducah, on engaging in organized crime and trafficking in fentanyl.
• Jakyron Burnside, 27 of Paducah, on engaging in organized crime and trafficking in fentanyl.
• Hallie Hooker, 23, of Paducah, on engaging in organized crime and trafficking in fentanyl (two counts).
• Nathaniel Cashan, 19, of Brookport, Illinois, on engaging in organized crime and conspiracy to trafficking in fentanyl.
• Alexis Snipes, 22, of Brookport, Illinois, on engaging in organized crime and conspiracy to trafficking in fentanyl.
• Darcy Thompson, 34, of Paducah, on engaging in organized crime, possession of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana.
• Racheal Land, 26, of Paducah, on engaging in organized crime, trafficking in fentanyl (four counts), and trafficking in methamphetamine.
• Chelsy Timpe, 22, of Benton, on engaging in organized crime, trafficking in fentanyl and second-degree manslaughter.
• Zane Day, 18, of Hickory, on engaging in organized crime.
Norman said the investigation also identified other supply sources for fentanyl and meth in western Kentucky. Work entailed undercover drug purchases, surveillance and search warrants, intercepted drug parcels, and analyzing physical and digital evidence.
“The law seized thousands of fentanyl pills, pounds of crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, firearms and money believed to be proceeds of illegal drug sales,” he said.
The press conference showed seized pills Norman said were disguised as Oxycodone.
“These pills are often produced in sophisticated labs controlled by drug trafficking organizations,” he said. “Many are blue in color, with markings saying ‘M’ and ‘30.’ The street value of one of these pills is $20.”
Norman said, from DEA reports, the odds of buying a pill off the street laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl is rising.
“Of fentanyl-laced prescription pills in 2022, six out of 10 contain a lethal dose of fentanyl. This is an increase in a previous announcement in 2021, where four out of 10 contained a lethal dose,” Norman said. “Using one of these pills is like playing Russian roulette … fentanyl is just as deadly as a bullet.”
Graves County Sheriff Jon Hayden said, “For people selling fentanyl, the time has long passed to try and convince anyone you didn’t realize how dangerous it was.”
Assistant County Attorney James Mills said recent amended legislation “would greatly help my office in prosecuting these cases to the fullest.” One is increased parole eligibility for fentanyl trafficking from 20- to 50% — 85% if aggressive trafficking.
“The second thing is the Kentucky state legislation has amended the manslaughter statute to include fentanyl sold that leads to someone’s death,” Mills said, calling it a “punishment commensurate with the level of harm caused in our communities.”
He praised the investigation’s inter-agency efforts: “Criminal enterprises do not respect the geographical boundaries if something happens.”
Norman said, through the Badges of Hope program, officials would assist anyone struggling with addiction who wanted treatment.
“You can call the county sheriff’s office, speak to a deputy … through the program, we’ll find a place for treatment and provide transportation,” he said. Other facilities like Kentucky Addiction Centers would give aid.
He asked parents to have Narcan accessible, which one can get at the Purchase Health District, courthouse, library or local pharmacies.
County Attorney Cade Foster referenced Casey’s Law, state legislation meant to aid people with loved ones exhibiting substance abuse.
“If you have a loved one suffering from substance abuse who doesn’t recognize the need for treatment, you can come before the county attorney’s office,” Foster said. “We’ll get you in front of a district judge, and you can order that individual to get treatment.
“They have to be suffering from a substance abuse disorder … a mental issue won’t disqualify them, and they have to be posing a risk of harm. We’ll be glad to meet with you. If you’re a boyfriend, girlfriend, loved one, come see us — we can help them get treatment.”
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