Thursday, July 12, 2001

Drug bust a windfall for police

N. Ky. strike force gets $670,000

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A drug ring broken up by federal and local law enforcement last year culminated Wednesday in the presentation of about $670,000 in forfeiture funds to the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force.

        Covington FBI Special Agent Michael Schafer said much of the credit for the arrests of seven people on a variety of drug charges goes to Campbell County Police Detective Bill Wilson, a member of the Drug Strike Force who developed a witness who triggered the entire case.

        “Unfortunately, (Mr. Wilson) couldn't be here,” Mr, Schafer said during a special presentation of the forfeiture money by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Catron at the Wood Bros. Grill in Park Hills. “He got this case going and developed a lot of the leads. He did a great job.”

        Detective Wilson, who was working a case Wednesday, began working with the cooperating witness in June of 2000, and the Strike Force, assisted by the FBI, arranged for the witness to purchase marijuana from Debra Wesley of Florence.

        Ms. Wesley's arrest and the arrest of six others, as part of a continuing case, had not been released for publication before Wednesday's ceremony.

        Subsequent investigation by members of the Strike Force led to a storage unit in Florence where Ms. Wesley's brothers, Jerry and Louis Roberts, were observed loading marijuana from Ms. Wesley's car. Officers said they also observed Jerry Roberts deliver 70 pounds of marijuana to the Florence residence of Kim McCoy and Randy Brock, Jerry Robert's sister and brother-in-law.

        Jim Paine, new head of the Drug Strike Force, said Jerry Roberts and his associates had been distributing marijuana in Northern Kentucky for at least 10 years, averaging importation and distribution of between 300 and 700 pounds each month.

        Jerry Roberts, his wife, Marsheila, Louis Roberts, Debra Wesley, Kimberly McCoy-Brock and Randy Brock all pleaded guilty to marijuana trafficking charges in U.S. District Court in Covington last year.

        Joe Woodland of Utah, an associate of Jerry Roberts, who arranged a shipment of marijuana, also pleaded guilty. Another man, John Vangor of Tucson, Ariz., was charged with drug trafficking but remains a fugitive.

        Strike Force members seized about $825,000 in cash from the defendants, as well as a number of vehicles, firearms and other items, which led to the forfeiture funds available to the Strike Force.

        The Boone County Sheriff's Department also received $40,000.

        Police have no plans yet for the money,though it must be spent on police activities within guidelines that include training and equipment.


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