Howard County police charge 26 in large cocaine, pill bust based in Columbia
By Staff report
Jun 08, 2016 at 10:05 AM
Howard County narcotics detectives have shut down a drug ring in Columbia involving cocaine and prescription pills with the arrests and indictments of 26 people over the last eight months.
The effort has had an impact on the availability and distribution of these types of drugs in Columbia, Howard County police said in a press release.
Detectives began investigating the ring after undercover officers made a series of drug buys from various dealers in Columbia. Through the investigation, police said they learned that many drug dealers were being supplied with cocaine and OxyContin by James William Matthews, 50, of Tamebird Court, Columbia.
After gathering months of information, police requested a court order from a judge for a wiretap on Matthews' phone. According to the press release, the wiretap began in October 2015 and detectives began gathering details about Matthews' illegal activities and associates.
Over the course of seven weeks, police said they obtained significant information about Matthews' alleged operation and established probable cause for numerous arrests and search warrants. Matthews was arrested in November 2015, and later indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute drugs, possession of large quantities of drugs, importing drugs into the state, and operating as a drug kingpin.
After Matthews' arrest, Howard County police alledge another man in the network, Michael Antonio Webb, 32, of Blue Wing Court, Columbia, began conducting operations in Matthews' place.
Police requested a court order from a judge for a wiretap on Webb's phone and obtained additional information between December 2015 and February 2016 about the ongoing activities of the drug ring.
As a result of the overall investigation, police identified and charged a total of 26 people who were involved in supplying, selling and buying drugs as part of Matthews' and Webb's networks. Detectives served 13 search warrants and, all combined, seized more than a kilo of cocaine and crack cocaine; more than 100 various prescription pills; $160,000 in cash, and four vehicles.
Detectives have worked continuously with the Howard County Office of the State's Attorney throughout the investigation. Indictments have been ongoing and additional charges are expected.
To date, there have been a total of 34 grand jury indictments involving these 26 suspects: