Boone County woman sentenced to over four years in federal prison for aiding and abetting heroin distribution

Updated 1 year ago From a Release by U.S. Attorney's Office for Southern District of WV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Boone County woman who was part of a heroin trafficking ring was sentenced  to four years and three months in federal prison, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Joyce Ann Zornes, 33, of Seth, previously pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin.

In 2013, Daymeon Damar Johnson, 31, of Detroit, came to Boone County where he met Zornes. Shortly after meeting, Johnson and Zornes began selling oxycodone pills from a residence on Harper Lane in Seth. In early 2015, Johnson and Zornes began selling heroin supplied by sources in Detroit. Zornes sold heroin to local users and also made trips to Detroit in order to bring the heroin back to Boone County. In July 2015, members of the U.S. Route 119 Drug and Violent Crime Task Force began making purchases of heroin from local dealers being supplied by Johnson or Zornes. On March 22, 2016, Zornes was stopped in Jackson County while transporting heroin from Michigan. Two days later, in an effort to obtain bond money for Zornes, Johnson recruited Gregory Runion to sell an SKS assault rifle. Runion sold the rifle to an informant working for the Task Force.

On August 1 and 2, 2016, Task Force officers used an informant to buy heroin directly from Johnson and Zornes at their residence. Officers executed search warrants at the residence and seized more than 40 grams of heroin, ecstasy tablets, cash, and distribution paraphernalia.

This long-term investigation of heroin trafficking in Boone County has led to several convictions and prison sentences. Johnson was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. Christopher Priestly, of Bloomingrose, was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison for distribution of heroin. Robert Donavan Buzzard, also of Bloomingrose, was sentenced to a year and nine months in federal prison for distribution of heroin. Runion, of Seth, was sentenced to a year and a half in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Darrell Woodside, of Detroit, pleaded guilty to using a telephone to facilitate heroin trafficking and faces up to four years in federal prison when he is sentenced on June 22, 2017. Other individuals implicated in this investigation have also been prosecuted in state court.

The U.S. Route 119 Drug and Violent Crime Task Force and the West Virginia State Police conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Hanks handled the prosecution. United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin imposed the sentence and is presiding over these cases.

These cases are part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs and heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and heroin in communities across the Southern District.

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