10 enter guilty pleas for role in meth ring

The U.S. attorney representing the Western District of New York declared “mission accomplished” after 10 people, many local residents, entered guilty pleas for their roles in a drug trafficking organization centered in the Jamestown area.

In a news release Monday evening, U.S. Attorney James Kennedy announced the pleas, just hours before a trial was to kick off in U.S. federal court in Buffalo. All 10 pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and distributing, 5 grams or more of methamphetamine. They include Andrew C. Bennett, 31, of Randolph; Jacob A. Motherwell, 31, of Jamestown; Destiny J. Hare, 31, of Randolph; Michael A. Davis, 36, of Jamestown; Ryan R. Lopez, 26, of Palmdale, Calif.; Martin Marcus Bowman, 29, of San Bernardino, Calif.; Jamell Trapp, 29, of Jamestown; Henry Stovall, Jr., 42, of Jamestown; Danny W. Michael, III, 47, of Jamestown; and Alexis V. Hall, 25, of Harrison, N.J.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the group conspired — with another six co-defendants — to operate a drug trafficking organization, primarily involving the distribution of methamphetamine, in the Jamestown area between March 2017 and October 2018.

During the execution of search warrants throughout the investigation, law enforcement officers recovered 10 firearms and multiple rounds of ammunition, over 20 cellphones, drug paraphernalia and cash.

The investigation was dubbed “Operation Meltdown,” which was discussed at length during a June 2018 press conference at the city Municipal Building. Police believe the methamphetamine was manufactured in Mexico and shipped to California. From there, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the drugs were packaged and shipped via the U.S. Postal Service to Jamestown for distribution.

Then-Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings said at the time his department reached out to federal agencies during its investigation into the trafficking of methamphetamine.

“This is a great example of the collaborative effort in the results that we can achieve,” said Snellings in June 2018, also praising the work of the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force.

The overall investigation involved the execution of federal and state search warrants at homes in Jamestown, Fredonia and Randolph.

The six co-defendants who were previously convicted include: Zackiel Fields, Jr.; Ernest Cauley, Jr.; Ramael Fields; Stephanie Harrison; Searcy Fields; and Stacie Yancer.

“Through the tremendous partnership between federal and local law enforcement, 16 individuals who committed federal crimes have been brought to justice, and a well-armed drug trafficking organization responsible for polluting Jamestown and the Southern Tier with highly addictive and debilitating methamphetamine has been dismantled,” Kennedy said in a news release. “My office and our DOJ law enforcement partners are always looking for ways to help to support local law enforcement as they work tirelessly on the front lines in the fight to preserve law and order and strengthen the communities they serve by making them safer and more secure. In this case, I say, ‘mission accomplished.'”

The charge for each carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years and a $5 million fine. Sentencings for all 10 will be scheduled at a later date.


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