By RACHEL C. DOVE
PIKEVILLE, Ky. - Two local residents from the Aflex and McVeigh communities are now lodged behind bars after being arrested Tuesday on federal drug trafficking charges, according to information received from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Lexington.
Earlier this month, a Clearwater, Fla., man, Jermaine St. Claire, was detained by Florida authorities on charges of conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone. This arrest provided information that was linked to Kenneth Gannon, 53, of Aflex and Russell West, 42 of McVeigh.
The two men were arrested at their homes on Tuesday by Operation UNITE detectives, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Marshals and troopers from the Pikeville Post 9 of the Kentucky State Police.
Keith Napier, the manager for the UNITE Big Sandy Task Force, stated that more than 200,000 Oxycodone pills that were sold over the past year in Pike County were linked to the two local drug distributors that were arrested on Tuesday, taking a huge bite out of a criminal drug operation that was growing at an alarming rate.
“They were getting pills delivered from Florida every four weeks or so,” said Napier. “Each of these pills has a street value of approximately $40, which means this trafficking operation resulted in approximately $8 million dollars in illegal sales in just the last 12 months alone.
“We’re extremely pleased with these arrests.”
Law enforcement seized thousands of dollars in cash that was stashed inside the homes of Gannon and West during the arrest; along with well over 1,000 prescription pills that Napier said he is sure would have soon made their way into the hands of more Pike County residents.
Both defendants are currently lodged in the Pike County Detention Center where they are being held without bond, pending their appearance and arraignment in U.S. Federal Court.
The investigation into this drug trafficking operation continues, and may yield further arrests.