Four people are facing charges after a synthetic drug bust in Lawrence County, Ohio, including the man believed to be the main supplier of Alpha PVP in the county.
Alpha PVP, commonly known by the street name "Gravel", is a drug in the bath salts family and is similar to "Flakka", another drug popping up more and more in our region.
Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said it's a dangerous drug that causes people to hallucinate and think others are out to get them.
"The person who's on it will have a sense of invincibility," Lawless said. "They think they're stronger than they are. In fact, they won't give up a fight. It causes them to believe things that aren't happening."
On Wednesday, the Lawrence Drug and Major Crimes Task Force, Lawrence County Sheriff's Office and Coal Grove Police K-9 Unit executed a search warrant at David Rick Bowles home in the 3900 block of County Road 55, also known as Middle Leatherwood Road, in South Point.
The search warrant was executed after a year-long investigation number of controlled buys of Alpha PVP, a synthetic drug.
During the search, investigators found 40 grams of Alpha PVP, with a $10,000 street value, several digital scales for weighing Alpha PVP, packaging materials for the drugs, approximately $20,000 in cash, and nearly 40 firearms, ranging from handguns to assault rifles, and many were loaded. Investigators say they also found packing slips and order forms from China for suspected Alpha PVP orders. Several cell phones, computers and tablets were also confiscated and sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification.
Lawless said people buy the drug on the streets and online.
"Some of the product has come from out of the country, from other countries into us, and we also believe he [David Bowles] had a supplier somewhere here in the area," Lawless said.
The homeowners, David Rick Bowles, 60, and Charlotte Bowles, 55, were arrested.
Lawless said David Rick Bowles is believed to be the main supplier and distributor of Alpha PVP in the county. He is charged with four counts of trafficking in drugs.
Charlotte Bowles is charged with one count of complicity to trafficking in drugs.
A neighbor said she is shocked to learn the family members, especially Charlotte, were arrested on drug charges. She said Charlotte's life revolves around her grandchildren and church.
"I just can't believe what I was hearing because to my knowledge, they're good people," the neighbor said.
James P. Bowles, 31, was arrested later in the evening one count of trafficking in drugs, one count of possession of drugs, and one count of resisting arrest. Investigators say he resisted and fought a deputy. They say citizens driving by when the arrest was being made stopped and helped the deputy. James Bowles had a baggie of Alpha PVP and devices for smoking the drug on him at the time of his arrest.
Christopher L. Ferris, 32, was at the home at the time of the bust and was arrested on an outstanding warrant.
More charges are expected to be filed in the case when it is presented to the Lawrence County Grand Jury next week.
Lawless said the drug problem may never go away because addicts will do anything they can to get drugs, but law enforcement will keep trying.
"This is a war that I'm not sure we'll ever win," Lawless said. "We have to keep fighting this battle and our youth and our county is way too important to not just give up the fight."
He said drug raids are possible because of the help from the public.
"Law enforcement can not work without the help of our citizens," Lawless said. "and I'm certainly appreciative that we have people that care about their areas and care about this county."
To report any information about drug activity you can call the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office anonymous drug tip line: 740-534-5830.