Arrest nets drugs and counterfeit cash

Photo provided K-9 Officer Hyra of the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Interdiction Unit played a leading role in getting suspected drugs and counterfeit money off the street Monday. Three people were arrested in St. Clairsville.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County Sheriff’s Deputies made three arrests Monday, along with the seizure of suspected drugs and counterfeit money, in large part due to the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Interdiction Unit.

Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas said Deputy Brian Carpenter and K-9 officer Hyra, both of the interdiction unit, played leading roles in the investigation. A search warrant was executed at a St. Clairsville hotel, where deputies took Cleophas Davis, 37, of Cleveland, into custody, along with Nicole Gust, 25, from Bellaire and Erica Warner, 24, from Martins Ferry.

Lucas said officers also seized nearly an ounce of suspected crack cocaine, about two grams of a fentanyl/heroin mixture, marijuana, and liquid Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main active chemical of marijuana. Officers also seized $1,193 and $400 of counterfeit money.

Davis is charged with trafficking and possession of cocaine, felonies of the second degree, fifth degree possession of drugs, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and criminal simulation, a misdemeanor of the first degree. Criminal simulation is the creation or possession of an item of simulated value with the purpose to defraud. Davis was was also served with two outstanding warrants out of Cuyahoga County.

Gust was served with an outstanding warrant out of Belmont County and is in jail.

Warner was charged with possession of heroin/fentanyl, a felony of the fourth degree, and possession of cocaine, a felony of the fifth degree, and has since posted bond.

“This is another classic case (for) our criminal interdiction team,” Lucas said. “Deputy Carpenter following leads in an investigation, that and our criminal investigation unit, our detective division, obtained a warrant (Monday) afternoon for one of our local motels,” Lucas said. “Another good investigation by guys just out there pounding the beat.”

Lucas noted the importance of keeping drugs off the street, as well as counterfeit money.

“It’s all about supply and demand. If we take their drugs, they’re not going to have the supply,” Lucas said, adding that treatment was available for drug addicts. We want to give people help, but us in law enforcement, our job is to catch the bad guy. That’s what we’re doing and that’s what we’re going to continue doing, day after day.”

He said there have not been large-scale reports of counterfeit bills in the county.

“Getting this amount is good. That money being out there, it’s nothing but our local retailers who are getting ripped off, because if they can get them by at a store, that’s loss of product from that. It’s really good for us. This helps our local businesses,” Lucas said. “Getting this (amount) is hopefully the beginning and the end of it, but today the retailers are a lot more sophisticated and trained (to spot counterfeit money). … A lot of people, from $20 bills and higher, they’re checking the money.”

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