Seven Perry County residents have been indicted after a yearlong sheriff's office investigation into an alleged methamphetamine production and distribution ring.
The people – ranging in age from 27 to 40 – first drew the attention of the Perry County Sheriff's Office in June 2013, when information was received alleging meth production in a New Lexington home, Lt. Kevin Starrett said.
"When we busted that, we started interviewing people and identifying more and more suspects," Starrett said. "It kept snowballing from there."
In total, five meth houses were raided during the investigation. Investigators from the sheriff's office and Central Ohio Drug Task Force identified 13 people believed to be involved in the drug operation. Their involvement ranged from purchasing of supplies to manufacturing and distribution, officials said.
"I can't say that it's going to slow the drug trade down any, but it's certainly going to let these guys know we're out there looking for them," Starrett said.
The seven individuals indicted within the past two weeks and the charges they face are:
- Jack Whitney Jr., 31, of New Lexington; complicity to illegal manufacturing in drugs, complicity to illegal assembly or possession of chemicals to manufacture drugs, and two counts of aggravated possession of drugs.
- Michael Hagaman Jr., 33, New Lexington; two counts of complicity to illegal manufacturing in drugs, and tampering with evidence.
- Walter Munyan, 40, New Lexington; two counts of complicity to illegal manufacturing in drugs, tampering with evidence, and three counts of possession of drugs.
- Tayva Goodin, 27, Corning; complicity to illegal manufacturing in drugs, complicity to illegal assembly or possession of chemicals to manufacture drugs, complicity to aggravated trafficking in drugs, permitting drug abuse.
- Gregory Goodin, 30, Corning; aggravated trafficking in drugs.
- Melissa Beckham, 40, Crooksville; complicity to illegal manufacturing in drugs, complicity to illegal assembly or possession of chemicals to manufacture drugs.
- Larry Hiles Jr., 33, New Lexington; complicity to illegal manufacturing in drugs, complicity to illegal assembly or possession of chemicals to manufacture drugs.
The felony charges range in severity from second-degree to fifth-degree. Six of the seven people indicted face a possible prison sentence of 13 years or more.
The remaining six suspects are expected to be indicted within the next few weeks.
Starrett said most of the people have extensive records. Some of the suspects have numerous drug charges in the past year.
"We're constantly dealing with them," Starrett said. "A handful we've been dealing with pretty much nonstop. ... It was a good bust."
In an unrelated case, Kelly Rambo, 47, of Crooksville, was indicted on two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine. She faces a potential three-year prison sentence if convicted.
Rambo's case stems from an Aug. 19 incident in which undercover drug agents reportedly purchased drugs from Rambo at her home on North Buckeye Street in Crooksville. Rambo was later arrested, and deputies reported seizing various drug equipment and currency from her home, according to a sheriff's report.
Another indicted individual, Richard Giles, 43, of Shawnee, faces more than a decade in jail for an alleged April 4 drug seizure, when narcotics detectives reportedly took 236 marijuana plants from Giles' garage.
More plants were allegedly found inside the home, located at 6450 Portie-Flamingo Road in Shawnee. The nine pounds of marijuana were reported seized in addition to 11 guns, including assault rifles.