DINGESS - “We’ve only just begun,” stated Mingo County Special Investigator and Sheriff-elect Eugene Crum, speaking about a drug sting that occurred Tuesday night that yielded four felony arrests.
Two additional defendants are wanted on outstanding warrants stemming from illegal drug trafficking and are being sought by law enforcement.
At approximately 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Investigator Crum, Williamson Police (WPD) Chief C.D. Rockel and officers with his department, Matewan Police (MPD) Chief Dave Stratton along with one officer, deputies with the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) and an officer with the Mingo County Home Confinement left Williamson, enroute to the Dingess area of Mingo County with a total of 6 arrest warrants in hand. Although two defendants are still eluding police, four were taken into custody, all on drug related charges.
Granville Vance, 60, and his grandson, Nathan “Whitey” Vance, 20, both of Old County Road in Dingess, were arrested and charged with one count of delivery of a controlled substance Schedule II narcotic and one count of conspiracy to deliver. The grandson is the third generation within this particular family to be arrested for selling and trafficking drugs. Also taken into custody were Delmer Lee Tomblin, 44, and his wife, Elizabeth Tomblin, 44, “aka” Elizabeth Canterbury, of Moses Fork Mountain in Dingess. Delmer faces the same charges as the Vance males, with Elizabeth facing a single count of attempt to deliver a Schedule II controlled substance.
All four defendants were arraigned late Tuesday night before Chief Magistrate Dallas Toler who set bail at $100,000 full cash for the male defendants and $50,000 full cash for Elizabeth. They were transported to the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden where they remain incarcerated, pending preliminary hearings. Delmer is currently on parole for a previous drug conviction and could be charged as a repeat offender.
“These arrests originated out of the recent drug bust on Vinson Street here in town”, stated Rockel. “Through information we received from other sources, the Williamson Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department were able to make successful undercover drug buys from these defendants.”
“We’ve been concentrating on the Dingess area for the last few weeks, after receiving multiple complaints about a constant, high traffic flow at these residents,” commented the Williamson chief. “I attend church in this community and believe it or not, I’ve been approached during church service by numerous people that were concerned about what was happening in their neighborhood. The Mingo County Prosecutor’s office had also received a high call volume of complaints about this matter.”
“Three out of the six warrants we obtained were on individuals who are convicted felons,” said Investigator Crum. “Since Aug. 1, when I was hired through the prosecutor’s office, we have successfully taken a total of 9 drug dealers off the streets. I’ve been working with Chief Rockel and members of other police departments toward this goal, and these arrests are proof that our efforts have not been in vain.”
Chief Rockel explained that in more remote areas like Dingess, where the demand for illegal drugs is high and the supply is not as plentiful, the street cost for a 30 mg Oxycodone can reach a cost of $45 to $50. In towns with a greater population such as Williamson, the same pills usually sell for an average of $1 per mg, which would put them in the $30 range.
“These drug dealers are making some quick cash,” said Crum. “If you have the opportunity to sit down and talk to them and get to the root of the crime, it always involves the money.”
“One defendant I spoke with in the past told me it’s really hard to resist the lure of money that can be earned in just a matter of minutes.”
Both Crum and Rockel told the Daily News they fully expect additional arrests to come out of the Dingess drug raid, as well as others throughout the county that are currently under investigation.
“We’re taking our streets back and reclaiming our county, one arrest at a time,” remarked Crum. “I want to thank all of the law enforcement members who have participated in these drug busts. They have joined together and worked as a team and that’s the only way we’re going to be successful.”
“I want to thank the prosecutor, Michael Sparks, for giving me the opportunity to serve in this position which will allow me to hit the ground running when I take the oath of office for sheriff in January,” stated Crum. “We’ve still got a long way to go, but each and every time we make an arrest and take a drug dealer off the street, we’re making a dent in the drug trade within our county.”
“We want the residents of Mingo County to be able to live without fear that drugs are being bought and sold within the neighborhoods where they live, work and raise their families. If we continue with the success we’re currently experiencing regarding our investigations, arrests and convictions of individuals selling illegal drugs, then I feel safe in saying that this goal is not a pipe dream, but is a reality,” concluded the special investigator.
“If you buy and sell drugs within Mingo County, I can assure you the days of your crime being overlooked or a blind eye being turned no longer applies.”
If you have information regarding drug activity in your community, you are asked to contact your local police. You do not have to provide your name; the officers are only interested in the suspicious activity you are reporting.
The number for the Mingo County Prosecutor’s office is 304-235-0350; MCSD is 235-0300; the Williamson Detachment of the WVSP is 235-6000; the WPD is 235-2570; MPD may be reached at 426-4522; Delbarton Police at 475-3359; Kermit P.D. at 393-3563 and the Gilbert Police Department at 304-664-9625.