Authorities have filed felony charges against four men in what is being called one of the largest drug seizures of its kind in Franklin County history.
The four are accused of being involved in a conspiracy to distribute crystal methamphetamine, also called “ice,” in Franklin County and surrounding areas.
Narcotics investigators seized 1 1/4 pounds of crystal meth Tuesday in an investigation that started several weeks ago and is ongoing.
“We’ve seized larger amounts of drugs in interdiction operations along the interstate,” said Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, head of the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit.
“The difference with this is it was intended for distribution here, for use by Franklin County residents,” Grellner said.
He said the task force believes the crystal meth, which is being smuggled in from Mexico, is coming from a source in Kansas City, Mo.
“This verifies what we have thought . . . that crystal meth is flooding this area,” remarked Detective Cpl. Scott Briggs of the task force.
Grellner said task force officers assisted other county deputies on Tuesday in serving an eviction notice at a home on Cross Creek Lane off Highway AJ, west of Union.
When they entered the home they found Larry A. Cole Jr., 37, in a bedroom with an unidentified woman. On the bed they found the 1 1/4 pounds of crystal meth packaged for sale in one-ounce bags.
They also found a .45 caliber handgun and video surveillance equipment in the home.
Cole is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. His bond was set at $25,000.
That arrest led narcotics investigators to three other suspects.
Officers went to Berger to question James A. “Bo” Mendenhall, 34, about his possible involvement. When officers arrived, Mendenhall fled on foot and while running tossed a bag into a nearby bush.
He was caught and officers recovered the bag which contained about an ounce of suspected crystal meth, Grellner said.
Mendenhall is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. His bond was set at $10,000.
Meanwhile, other officers went to a home on New Friendship Lane in the Gerald area to question Justin P. Pursley, 31. No drugs were found, but officers did find a stolen truck that was in the process of being altered, Grellner said.
Pursley is charged with one count of receiving stolen property. His bond was set at $5,000.
The fourth suspect, Kenneth W. Virgin, 49, of Troy, was arrested early Wednesday morning when he arrived on the Washington Wal-Mart parking lot to obtain some of the meth, Grellner said.
A $75,000 cash-only bond was set for Virgin who is charged with one count of drug trafficking and one count of resisting arrest.
Grellner said the task force had served a search warrant at the home off Route AJ about two weeks ago to investigate reports of a possible meth lab there.
The task force later was contacted by the owner of the home who was in the process of evicting the tenants.