Prosecutor’s Wiretap Work Earns DEA Award

Marshall County Prosecutor Jeff Cramer was honored by the Drug Enforcement Administration this week for his work using a rare wiretap order to follow the activities of a five-person drug ring charged with dealing more than$17,000 worth of oxycodone a month.

Cramer was presented a certificate of appreciation for outstanding contributions in the field of drug law enforcement during a surprise ceremony in Marshall County Circuit Court. The award was presented by Suzan Williamson, DEA resident agent in charge for West Virginia.

The wiretap was used to investigate an oxycodone ring in which an estimated 500 oxycodone pills were being sent to Moundsville each month. In 2013, Cramer was able to obtain permission for a wiretap from Monongalia Judge Russell Clawges, one of only five judges in the state authorized to consider a wiretap application.

It was the first wiretap warrant issued in West Virginia in 23 years.

“It was an antiquated system and Jeff deciphered it,” Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Cecil said. “He did the research and the leg work and put in a ton of hours. When the Marshall County Drug Task Force started the investigation of trafficking in pills through this area, that lead to a number of connections in California. Because of that, it was crucial we get a wiretap. If it wasn’t for Jeff’s work, we wouldn’t have had those connections.”

As a result of the investigation, Moundsville residents Rocci Wade, Roque Garcia, Diane Savage and Alisha Letts were convicted in connection to the ring, Cramer said. The sentence of Julia Joseph of Van Nuys, Calif. is pending.

“It’s humbling,” Cramer said. “The Marshall County Drug Task Force did the heavy lifting. They were the ones out there every evening getting the surveillance for us to make the application for the wiretap.”

Cramer likened the drug problem in Marshall County to a “wildfire,” and said local law enforcement is doing its best to fight it.

“We put one dealer in jail and it seems like two replace him,” Cramer said. “It’s really an issue with prescription pills and we’re seeing a little bit of an increase in heroin. Prescription pills are still a problem but users are starting to migrate toward the cheaper high. That’s going to be a problem. We’re aware of it and we’re ahead of it.”