BG MARIJUANA RING: Suspect captured in Florida

Law enforcement authorities last week captured a man in Florida who is accused in federal court of participating in a marijuana distribution ring in Bowling Green.  Police took Edward Joseph Prentice into custody in Lake City, Fla., on Thursday. Prentice is one of 21 people named in an April federal indictment that accuses him and his co-defendants of conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.   Francisco Parra, Annabelle Ahamuda, Tony Barber, Bruce Beck, Paul Cuen, Bryson Hall, Carl Gene Jones Jr., Craig Larry, Roger Kollman, Tim Manning, Jacob Paul Miller, Brian Scott Miller, Darrell Morgan, Michael Lee Perry, Julius Price, Scott Rich, Troy D. Rich, Michael D. Rich, Jonathan Watkins and Paul Michael Wilson are also named in the indictment, which alleges that they conspired to distribute marijuana here from July 3, 2008, through April 6.

Scott Rich, Jones, Manning, Michael Rich and Troy Rich are also charged with money laundering in the same indictment.  Cuen is the only person named in the indictment who remains at large. The others are either in custody or out on bond.  The Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force began the case, and it is now a joint investigation with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, task force Director Tommy Loving said.  “Some in Congress and some in the public believe drug enforcement should be a state and local issue, but this case is a prime example of why it requires state, local and federal agencies working together on what turned out to be a case with international ties and why federal funding is so badly needed for state and local drug enforcement, as it is not just a state and local problem,” Loving said. “It is a state, local, national and international problem. (U.S. Sen.) Mitch McConnell and (U.S. Rep.) Brett Guthrie understand this need.”

A companion case in state court charges Troy Rich, Michael Rich, Jones, Perry, Watkins, Jacob Paul Miller and Brian Scott Miller with engaging in organized crime. Three other people are also named in the state’s organized crime indictment – Christopher Higgins, Michael Doolin and Patricia Alexander. Charges against Alexander were dismissed without prejudice Feb. 28. Doolin pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of trafficking in marijuana over 8 ounces but less than 5 pounds. The organized crime case against Higgins was dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea on another case. Higgins’ probation was revoked June 23 after he failed to report to his probation officer, according to court records. “This is the type of case that takes out the major drug dealers,” Loving said.  Witnesses told police that Jones was the leader of the marijuana distribution ring here, according to Warren Circuit Court records. However, in text messages between Jones and Troy Rich, Jones calls Rich “boss man.”

On July 23, Jones and Troy Rich were traveling north on Interstate 65 when Kentucky State Police Trooper Rick Ellis stopped the 2005 Toyota Tundra they were in at the 94 mile marker, according to Warren Circuit Court records. Ellis could smell marijuana and searched the vehicle, where he found $40,287. They were arrested for marijuana possession, and the money was seized. In February 2009, a confidential informant told detectives that Jones, along with several others, was selling large amounts of marijuana. Detectives used a confidential informant to buy pot from Perry multiple times, according to court documents.  During one transaction, the informant watched Jones take apart a large speaker on Perry’s vehicle, according to court records. Perry retrieved a pound of marijuana from the speaker and got inside the informant’s car. Detectives watched Perry as he drove to the home of Michael Rich, who is Troy Rich’s father. During another transaction, Perry discussed Jones’ legal issues concerning a traffic stop on I-65 in Elizabethtown, court records show.

On June 28, 2009, the Arkansas State Police intercepted 300 pounds of pot bound for Bowling Green. On July 20, 2009, Arkansas State Police intercepted 163 pounds of marijuana on its way here, according to court records. One of the men caught during that traffic stop named Jones and Troy Rich as the people here who were supposed to receive the shipment. The man estimated that he and others moved between 100 and 400 pounds of pot one to two times a week from Tucson, Ariz., to Jones and Troy Rich in Bowing Green.  The marijuana originated from Mexico, Loving said.  On Sept. 3, 2009, a confidential informant told police that Troy Rich, Jones and Miller controlled the entire marijuana trade in this area, according to court records. The informant told police that Troy and Michael Rich both laundered their money through their painting service, according to court records. On Jan. 25, 2010, a witness told police that Alexander worked as an accountant for the Riches’ painting business and that she received a quarter-pound of marijuana for making the books look legitimate, court records show.

Also in 2010, a confidential informant bought marijuana from Jacob Paul Miller, who said he was tired of how Troy Rich and Jones operated the marijuana distribution. Miller told the informant that Rich made all the decisions and treated Jones like a kid. Miller further named Doolin and Perry as the mules who were given $10,000 for each trip they made to Arizona to buy between 200 and 250 pounds of pot, court records show.  Jones, Troy Rich and Jacob Paul Miller have a 9 a.m. July 25 court date in Warren Circuit Court. Brian Miller has a 1 p.m. Aug. 1 court date in Warren Circuit Court. Perry and Michael Rich have a 1 p.m. Sept. 19 court date in Warren Circuit Court. Watkins has a 1 p.m. July 22 court date in Warren Circuit Court.  The defendants in the federal court case are scheduled for a telephonic hearing next month.  “This is a great example of the task force, the U.S. attorney and the commonwealth attorney working together,” Loving said.

via : BG Daily News

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