Task force stages major drug bust in Belmont County

MARTINS FERRY – Shortly after 7 a.m. on Tuesday, the Belmont County Drug Task Force arrested James Church, 33, of Cleveland, in a St. Clairsville hotel room. Church is allegedly connected to a drug ring that has been working in the Ohio Valley.

As a result of the bust, the Drug Task Force collected $15,000 in cash, with $101 of that in change, and a 9-mm handgun with a high capacity round.

In addition, boxes of what is presumed to be stolen items, which included three televisions, a toaster, a Wii game system and a music system. Among the items found were more than 100 grams of crack cocaine, 27 grams of heroin, a dozen percocets and a small amount of marijuana.

There was also evidence of drug use in the room, said Drug Task Force Commander and Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland.

“We worked a long time on this case,” said McFarland. “We have never had a bust this big. We couldn’t have done it without the help of the different agencies in the area.”

“The Highway Patrol, Bridgeport Police, St. Clairsville Police, Belmont County Sheriff’s Department and the Martins Ferry Police Department were a giant help, and it wouldn’t have been possible without their help,” said McFarland. “This was a team effort and wouldn’t be possible if everyone didn’t work together.”

Church was booked on charges on possession of drugs, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug-abuse instruments.

Church’s bond was set at $1,250,000.

Van Dyne can be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com

Ed Polli also contributed to this story.