WILLIAMSON — With 52 of the 61 indictments returned by the Mingo County Grand Jury last Thursday being cases involving illegal drug trafficking, Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, Prosecuting Attorney C. Michael Sparks, Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum and Drug Task Force Commander Dave Rockel felt that 2013 was starting off on a positive note and were eager for those who were indicted to be taken into custody.
Although law enforcement officials had a good idea of what they might face or find when they knocked on the doors of defendants in the wee hours of Friday morning, they found themselves shocked by the quantity of prescription pills at one residence and what was described as “ill-gotten gains” at another.
George Rauben White, of Taylorville, is well known in Mingo County, having operated White’s Sign Co. for many years. White was indicted by the grand jury on 3 counts of delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance (Oxycodone). When search warrants were obtained for White’s business and home, the officers conducting the arrest found themselves amazed at the amount and variety of prescription meds discovered inside 2 safes, one at the Sign Co. and one inside the residence.
“We found morphine tablets, valium, hydrocodone and oxycodone tablets plus several more different types of prescription medication,” said Sheriff Crum. “When the safe at Mr. White’s business was opened, it looked like a pharmacy. This is one of the largest drug finds we’ve made in quite a while.”
Commander Rockel spoke with the Daily News regarding some of the other items confiscated during the raid, saying that a quantity of long guns and hand guns were found, and a state-of-the-art video surveillance at the business will hopefully yield information as to who has frequented the business to buy and sell things other than t-shirts and signage.
“These recordings will help us to identify persons of interest and we’re very optimistic that information will lead to further arrests,” stated Rockel. ‘We also found a large coffee can that held a quantity of prescription pills. People have thought for years that you can conceal pills in a canister that contains coffee and the smell will be undetectable by drug-sniffing dogs. This is a myth – not the truth.”
Officers confiscated a laptop computer, two computer modems, a rolodex and several other pieces of key information that will assist with further investigations. White is currently incarcerated in the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden and is being held without bond until his arraignment hearing that is scheduled to take place in Mingo County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
Also arrested during the drug roundup was Marvin Vance, a lifelong resident of the Breeden community. The defendant was allegedly observed throwing drugs or drug paraphernalia in the creek behind his home in an attempt to conceal them from law enforcement when he realized officers were on his door with an arrest warrant.
Vance had a large gun collection (66 weapons), a large amount of ammunition, gun clips and magazines, and prescription pills in the home and on the property. He is said to have owned a dozen vehicles that included several vintage and classic cars worth a substantial amount of money that were seized, and were believed to have been purchased with funding from the sale of illegal drugs.
“People can’t seem to resist the lure of what they consider “fast and easy money”, said Crum. “The more they make – the more they want. They don’t make a few bucks and walk away; they get into the drug trade deeper and deeper until they find themselves behind bars, losing everything they own. A lot of them leave family members behind. This creates a hardship on everyone involved…there are no winners, everyone loses.”
“I want everyone to know that these arrests are only the beginning,” remarked the sheriff. “Commander Rockel is the best I’ve ever worked with when it comes to drug investigations, and my deputies are top-notch in my book. We are making a lot of changes in our department and we’re focusing on training each and every officer in all aspects of the law. I feel that each day, they become better prepared to fight crimes such as these. We’ve got a long way to go to shut down drug traffic in Mingo County but each day brings us one step closer to our goal.”
“If every drug arrest we make saves one life, we’ve accomplished a lot.”
Commander Rockel stated that he wanted to thank everyone who contributed to these arrests, mentioning all the officers from his department and municipalities throughout the county, along with Home-Confinement officers and court bailiffs.
“Everyone pitched in. We became a great team of men and women with one goal in mind and that was arresting individuals who were indicted for selling illegal drugs. This proves that working together, anything can be accomplished. This is a factor that has been missing in our county for many years but we have closed the door on the past and are committed to making a strong future for the residents who call this their home,” commented Rockel.
Commander Rockel and Sheriff Crum asked to encourage the public to continue calling in your reports of suspicious behavior or drug activity in your neighborhood, and said that each and every tip is carefully checked out.
“Without you – our jobs would be a lot harder. Many of these indictments started out with a tip, and look at how they ended. We want to say thank you to everyone who has assisted us with these investigations,” said Rockel.
Arraignments in these drug arrests are scheduled for Tuesday morning beginning at 9 a.m. in the Circuit Courtroom, and speculation is that some may also be held on Monday, depending on the caseload. Information will be published in the Daily News as it is released.