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9 arrested in multicounty meth ring, authorities say

Nine suspected members of a methamphetamine ring that operated in several Western North Carolina counties were arrested Tuesday, according to federal authorities, who are seeking three more men in the case.

The arrests followed an investigation by nearly a dozen local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

According to the federal criminal indictment unsealed last week in U.S. District Court, the suspects conspired to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of meth or more than 500 grams of a mixed substance containing meth.

Federal papers indicate most of the meth distribution and sales activity took place in Cleveland, McDowell and Buncombe counties. But the investigation also involved officials from Rutherford and Yancey counties.

Also involved were the N.C. Highway Patrol, the SBI, the S.C. Law Enforcement Division, agencies in Spartanburg County, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Federal officials say these nine people were arrested Tuesday (in most cases, the suspects face multiple counts of drug possession):

• George Wade “Rooster” Cook, 52, Casar – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

• Gregory Ray DeHart, 44, Marion – narcotics conspiracy; distribution of a controlled substance; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

• John Matthew “Ghost” Frady, 39, Cowpens, S.C. – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance; felon in possession of firearms.

• Jeffrey Kirkland, 41, Gainesville, Ga. – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

• Ramona Jamison Lail, 48, Marion – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

• Jimmy Dwayne Lawing, 45, Marion – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

• Carlos Alvarado “Tequila” Mendoza, 39, Candler – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

• John Louis Pivonka, 42, Marion – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

• Tommy Ray Sisk, 56, Old Fort – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

These three men are being sought, authorities say:

• Miguel Santos “Mateo Segura” Maldonado, 42, Gainesville, Ga. – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

• Rigoberto Alvarado “Big Boy” Mendoza, 42, Arden – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

• Taide Alvarado Vergara, 27, Candler – narcotics conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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