Mount Airy area residents indicted on drug charges


First Posted: 5/6/2009

STUART, Va. Several residents of Mount Airy and the Ararat-Claudville communities in Patrick County have been named in a massive undercover drug operation in Virginia.
We had a huge drug roundup here yesterday, Patrick Sheriff Dan Smith said Wednesday of a series of arrests that climaxed a 14-month investigation. Smith credited the assistance of officers in Mount Airy and Surry County, among others, for the operations success.
The arrests came in the wake of 161 sealed indictments naming 45 people being issued this week by a Patrick County grand jury.
While the names of those still to be taken into custody have remained sealed, the list of those arrested so far at last report includes two people from Mount Airy, Steven Darrell Bonham and Jennifer Lee Hess.
Bonham is charged with selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance; sale of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second offense; selling or distributing a Schedule IV controlled substance; and unlawful assisting in procuring prescription drugs.
Hess was indicted on a charge of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance.
Eight residents of Ararat also have been arrested on various drug charges as a result of the probe, including Robin Williams Caudle, Christopher Kirk Gray, Jamie Lee Gray, Rodney Clifford Hoke, Lloyd Clay Hughes, Rogelio Santiago Morales, Elissa Sue Smith and Laken Natasha Williams.
Christopher Kirk Gray was indicted on two counts each of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second offense, and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, second or subsequent offense; and one count each of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
Jamie Lee Gray was arrested on charges of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance; and selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second offense.
Hoke was indicted on one count of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance; and two counts of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second offense.
One count of selling a Schedule III controlled substance was issued against Hughes.
Both Caudle and Morales are charged with one count of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance.
Elissa Sue Smith was indicted on one count each of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance; and two counts each of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second or subsequent offense, and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, second or subsequent offense.
Williams is accused of one count of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance and three counts of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second or subsequent offense.
Four Claudville residents were named in the probe as well: John Clarence Berrier, Derek Lee Smith, James Michael Whitt and Kevin Ray Whitt.
Berrier was indicted on charges of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance and maintaining a drug dwelling.
Derek Lee Smith is accused of selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance; selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second or subsequent offense; conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance; conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, second offense; and possession with intent to distribute a Schedule I or II controlled substance, subsequent offense.
James Michael Whitt Sr. was indicted on one count each of distribution of a Schedule I or II controlled substance and owning or maintaining a common nuisance; two counts of conspiracy to sell a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second or subsequent offense; distribution of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second or subsequent offense; conspiracy to sell a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second or subsequent offense; selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second or subsequent offense; and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Kevin Ray Whitt is facing charges including selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance; selling a Schedule I or II controlled substance, second or subsequent offense; and conspiracy to sell a Schedule I or II controlled substance.
Ages and exact addresses of those arrested were not available.
Three juveniles who allegedly distributed drugs also were indicted as part of the uncover investigation. Those names were not released because of their ages.
The Patrick sheriff indicated Wednesday that the probe is part of a continuous effort to eradicate drugs from the county, which he said has become a major problem for law enforcement there.
I think that most of our crime here is related to the distribution of narcotics, Smith said. Methamphetamine is the drug causing most of the difficulties, the sheriff added.
Pointing out that the undercover operation leading to the indictments and arrests required months of planning and work, Smith said it would not have been possible without the cooperation of neighboring law enforcement agencies, including ones based in Surry County.
I value the working relationship that my office, the Surry County Sheriffs Office and the Mount Airy Police Department have, the Patrick sheriff said.
In addition to local officers in Virginia, the probe involved the Virginia State Police along with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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