Twelve members of a drug-trafficking ring have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, federal authorities said Tuesday.

Seven of those charged were arrested on Tuesday, Dec. 10 during an early morning round-up conducted by federal, state and local law enforcement, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Three of the named defendants remain fugitives.

Tompkins was joined in making the announcement by Harry S.

Sommers, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office and Wayne L. Dixie, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The arrests are the result of a multi-agency investigation to target and reduce the

trafficking of methamphetamine in western North Carolina and was conducted by DEA, ATF, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the Marion Police Department, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Cowpens Police Department and the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina.

According to allegations contained in the criminal indictment unsealed on Wednesday, Dec. 11 in U.S. District Court, from about June 2012 to July 2012, the defendants did knowingly conspire to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of actual methamphetamine or more than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. The indictment alleges that the defendants carried out their drug conspiracy primarily in Buncombe, Cleveland and McDowell counties in Western North Carolina.

The following individuals were named and charged in the methamphetamine conspiracy


-- George Wade Cook (a/k/a “Rooster”), 52 , of Caser. (in custody)

-- Gergory Ray DeHart, 44, of Marion. (in custody)

-- Ramona Jamison Lail, 48 ,of Marion. (in custody)

-- Jimmy Dwayne Lawing (a/k/a “Dick”), 45 of Marion. (in custody)

-- Carlos Alvarado Mendoza (a/k/a “Tequila”), 39 of Candler. (in custody)

-- John Louis Pivonka, 42 of Marion. (in custody)

-- Tommy Ray Sisk, 56 of Old Fort. (in custody)

-- John Matthew Frady, (a/k/a “Ghost”), 39, of Cowpens, S.C. (in state custody)

-- Jeffrey Kirkland, 41, of Gainesville, Ga. (in federal custody in Georgia)

-- Miguel Santos-Maldonado (a/k/a “Mateo Segura”), 42, of Gainesville, Ga. (fugitive)

-- Rigoberto Alvarado Mendoza (a/k/a “Big Boy”), 42 of Arden. (fugitive)

--Taide Alvarado Vergara, 27, of Candler. (fugitive)

All twelve defendants in the methamphetamine trafficking ring have been charged with engaging in a narcotics conspiracy and they face a statutory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum term of life imprisonment, and a $10 million fine

The seven defendants arrested in North Carolina had their arraignment and detention hearings on Monday before U.S. District Court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Howell. All seven were detained pending trial.

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