Drug Task Force makes meth ring arrests

Ponca City Now - January 23, 2015 1:06 pm

By Beverly Bryant/News Director

Operation "Can You Hear Me Now" resulted in the arrests of five people by midmorning Friday as law enforcement officers from multiple agencies declared an attack on members of a methamphetamine ring in Ponca City.

The arrests were the result of an 11-month investigation that included monthly intelligence meetings in Kay County, District Attorney Brian Hermanson said.

"The operation took major manpower and wiretaps," Hermanson said.

The wiretaps were authorized by Judge David Lewis, who was with the Court of Criminal Appeals before his retirement. Hermanson said the wiretaps allowed investigators to hear transactions being planned.

He said warrants were issued yesterday and the task force started serving those early Friday morning.

Agencies which worked as part of the task force included the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control; the Kay County Sheriff’s Office; Ponca City Police Department; the Osage County Sheriff’s Office and Perry Police Department.

Five people were arrested Friday morning, including Stacey Payne; Jerry Payne; Ossie Lavow; Adam Rhea and Penny Rhodd. Two other people were already in the Kay County Detention Center on other charges. They were Zachary Kovarna and Ryan Mauk.

Officials said they are still looking for Tyrell Crawford; Briana Carter; Sherry Holdeman; Mindy Roberts; Kristie Wales; Patrick Walker; Kristie Williams; David Taylor; Jalisa Lee; Floyd Allen and Aron Warrior.

Those arrested were taken to a hangar at the Ponca City Airport to be transported to the Kay County Detention Center.

Darrell Weaver, director of the OBN, said the operation has dismantled a significant multi-pound meth ring in Ponca City. He said of those who are still being sought that "Word will get out. They can run but they cannot hide."

Weaver said the work done by the OBN is only as good as the community’s involvement. This operation involved law enforcement officers at every level.

Ponca City Police Chief Don Bohon said drug dealers in such operations have no regard for jurisdictional boundaries.

"They do not care if they are inside the city limits or outside the county lines," he said. The cooperative effort of the task force overcame that, he said.

Kay County Sheriff Everette VanHoesen said the operation involved 40 officers and a great deal of technology provided by OBN, including a helicopter used in the investigation. Some of the technology will help prosecuters.

Weaver said when there is a massive roundup, it is rare to make all the arrests in one day.

"We will lock arms and go shoulder-to-shoulder," he said. "We know who we are looking for."

He said the arrests will make a difference in the community.

"Any time you can take pound dealers off the street, the collaborative damage is lessened," he said. "We are very confident this is not just a disruption, but a dismantlement of this operation."

Hermanson said the business of trafficking drugs has changed.

"About two years ago the word on the street in Ponca City was that people were coming here from Tulsa, Wichita and Oklahoma City to sell meth up here and it was open season here," Hermanson said. "Because of commitments made by law enforcement, and what’s happened here, the word on the street three weeks ago is that it’s hot in Kay County and you better stay away. With this that’s happened today, hopefully they get the message and stop coming up here."

He said the business of selling meth has changed over time.

"It used to be that people made meth in their own homes or in the rural areas," he said. "We’re not seeing that any more. We had two major arrests the past two weeks where we received — actually three — where multiple pounds were received from people mailing in meth from California through FedEx."

Bohon said meth is a scourge on the community.

"We’re not going to allow it to destroy our community," he said.


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