In what local officials are now calling “Operation Clean Sweep,” a five-month long investigation has resulted in a swath of arrests across the region this past week.
On Nov. 5, Richmond County Sheriff Doug Bryant announced that the “hard work” of a tri-county drug task force, comprised of investigators from Richmond, Northumberland, and Lancaster Counties, resulted in the arrests of 21 suspects on 45 grand jury indictments.
All of the arrests were in some manner tied to illegal narcotic activity in the area, including marijuana, cocaine and prescription drug sales.
“This investigation started in May when we received some information about possible activity,” Bryant said. “Although the suspects are not necessarily in collaboration with each other, one thing led to another.”
According to Bryant, the task force, along with the assistance of the Warsaw Police Department, Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC), Essex County Sheriff’s Office and Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office, began making arrests on Thursday and continued through until Monday, just before the announcement was made.
“When it came time to execute, everyone got together and it was joint operation, the way it needs to be,” said Captain Martin Shirilla of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Bryant and Shirilla, the operation commenced on Nov. 1, when officers canvassed the region, hauling in suspects who had all been recently indicted by the multi-jurisdictional grand jury.
Utilizing strike teams, the suspects were apprehended, loaded onto a jail bus at a central location and then processed at the Northern Neck Regional Jail.
According to Westmoreland Sheriff C.O. Balderson, who had deputies assisting in the efforts in his county, the operation went smoothly and as planned.
“This is exactly what we are here for,” Balderson said. “To help each other out and to make sure that as a group, everything is handled in a professional manner.”
Although Northumberland County Sheriff Chuck Wilkins was not available for comment as of presstime, Bryant said that each county involved was integral to Operation Clean Sweep’s success.
“The cooperation was excellent between all jurisdictions and this has a very positive impact on each locality,” Bryant said. “It makes criminals more aware that they are being watched and gets drugs off of our streets.”
Shirilla agreed, adding that while the sweep may not deter hardened criminals, they should be put on notice.
“[We are] removing drug dealers off the streets,” he said. “The hard-core guys, we are going to keep going after them and working on them.”
Those arrested in this operation on felonies were:
• Germaine Stewart Yerby, 25 of Warsaw, charged with receiving stolen goods.
• Dylan Keith Ambrose, 20 of Farnham, charged with the sale of drugs near or on school property.
• Timothy Morgan Johnson Jr, 25 of Warsaw, charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Johnson was also arrested on two misdemeanor charges, one each of reckless handling of a firearm and brandishing a firearm.
• Kirk Kendall Newton, 31 of Hague, was charged with two counts of selling drugs on or near school property and one count of manufacturing/sale/possession of a controlled substance. Newton was also arrested on two misdemeanor charges of the manufacturing/sale/and possession of a controlled substance and sale/distribution of marijuana.
• Kristina Stokes, 35 of Tappahannock, was charged with the manufacturing/sale/possession of a controlled substance.
• Katheryn L Balderson, 50 of Warsaw, was charged with conspiracy to violate the drug control act and the manufacturing/sale/possession of a controlled substance.
• Scott Ryan Phillips, 26 of Callao, was charged with three counts of manufacturing/sale/possession of a controlled substance.
• Fonte Jamareal-Anton Veney, 23 of Warsaw, was charged with the manufacturing/sale/possession of a controlled substance.
• Jakkrit Chainam, 44 of Warsaw, was charged with the manufacturing/sale/possession of a controlled substance.
• Marcus Earell Gordon, 28 of Warsaw, was charged with issuing a bad check for more than $200.
• Delvin Palmer, 34 of Reedville, was charged with two counts of distribution of cocaine and one count of child endangerment in Lancaster County and one count of distribution of cocaine in Northumberland.
• Shawn-Shay Owen, 25 of Lancaster, was charged with one count of distribution of cocaine, one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in Lancaster County as well as one count of distribution of a controlled substance in Northumberland.
• Dwayne Noel, 35 of Burgess, was charged with three counts distribution of cocaine in Northumberland County and one count of distribution of cocaine in Lancaster.
• Wayne Ashburn, 57 of Burgess, was charged with distribution of a controlled substance.
• James Wright, 53 of Wicomico, was charged with three counts of distribution of cocaine.
• Travis M. Corsey, 31 of Wicomico, was charged with one count of distribution of cocaine.
Additionally, the following misdemeanor charges were filed in conjunction with the operation:
A 20-year-old Warsaw man was arrested for two counts of distribution of marijuana under ½ oz.
A 23-year-old Warsaw man was arrested for three counts of distribution of marijuana under ½ oz.
A 21-year-old Warsaw female was arrested for two counts of assault and battery
A 25-year-old Warsaw man was arrested for three counts of distribution of marijuana under ½ oz.
A 23-year-old Warsaw man was arrested for distribution of marijuana less than ½ oz.
“This was an excellent effort from all of the jurisdictions involved,” Bryant said. “Investigations are ongoing and more arrests are expected.”