Local and federal law enforcement officials arrested Glen Dale resident Joseph A. McDonald on federal drug charges after more than a year of investigation.
McDonald, 26, was arrested Thursday morning by the Marshall County Sheriff's Department, Glen Dale Police Department and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshals Service.
McDonald was indicted earlier this week by a federal grand jury on two counts of distribution of Oxycodone within 1,000 feet of a protected location, two counts of distribution of cocaine base within 1,000 feet of a protected location, one count of distribution of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a protected location, one count of distribution of Oxycodone and two counts of distribution of Oxycodone and cocaine within 1,000 feet of a protected location. McDonald's residence is located directly across the street from a playground and city park, which falls within the definition of a protected location.
According to Marshall County Chief Deputy and Sheriff-elect Kevin Cecil, the investigation began in his office about a year ago after several complaints were received about the property at 508 Tomlinson Ave., Glen Dale, where McDonald lives. Cecil said neighbors had reported suspicious activity both inside and outside of the residence which they believed to be drug deals.
After gathering intelligence from other sources and hearing more complaints of suspicious activity, Cecil said his office presented the information to the office of U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II. Initially, there was not enough evidence to qualify the case for federal proceedings, though more information gathered later pushed it over the threshold.
"Each case is different," Cecil said. "Various things come into play (when considering for a federal case), including the drugs themselves, the quantity and the number of people sold to."
Ihlenfeld said when the search warrant was executed Thursday, evidence of drug activity was found at the residence. Cecil confirmed that activity was "consistent to what we had found in our investigation."
McDonald appeared in court Thursday for an initial appearance and was remanded to police custody pending a detention hearing, which has been scheduled for Dec. 11. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine on the seven counts of distribution near a school and up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine on the final distribution count.
Cecil said community members in Glen Dale were a key factor in the case being investigated. He said those residents were thankful to the deputies Thursday for taking action.
"The big thing is if you see a problem but don't see any action, it isn't that we aren't doing anything," he said. "Investigations take time, and this is proof positive that with time and perseverance, we can solve a case."