Three arrested in drug probe

MARIETTA – Three people were arrested Tuesday night after an investigation into drug trafficking, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Agents of the Major Crimes Task Force executed warrants at two residences in Marietta, which resulted in finding drugs packaged for sale and a handgun, Sheriff Larry Mincks said Wednesday.

The first warrant, served at 165 Killwell Run Road, resulted in officers finding 1.73 grams of heroin packaged for sale in five-unit doses and 3.88 grams of crack cocaine packaged for sale in nine-unit doses, Mincks said.

Present in the room where the drugs were found were Tytus L. Shields, 25, Marietta, and Jamal Fuller, 20, 406 S. Harris Ave., Columbus, Mincks said.

It appeared Shields and Fuller broke down larger quantities of heroin and cocaine into portions appropriate for sale, Mincks said.

Shields and Fuller were arrested on a third-degree felony charge of trafficking in heroin and a fourth-degree felony charge of trafficking in heroin, Mincks said. Shields was served with additional third- and fourth-degree felony counts of trafficking in heroin, Mincks said.

Fuller and Shields have a history of drug arrests and trafficking drugs into the Washington County area, Mincks said.

They were arrested in January in Marietta, Mincks said. On two occasions in January, Shields sold confidential informants 16-unit doses of heroin, Mincks said.

“Shields had recently been released from custody and immediately went back to trafficking,” said Mincks.

Shields and Fuller remain at the Washington County Jail in lieu of $40,000 and $20,000 bond, respectively.

The second search warrant involved an associate of Shields identified as Matthew J. Dagnesi, 26, 304 Kenwood Ave., Marietta, Mincks said.

Dagnesi, a convicted felon from New York, is barred from possessing a firearm, but through investigative means, authorities learned he purchased a handgun from a Marietta store, Mincks said.

“The store did do a background check through ATF (Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), but Dagnesi somehow lied to the store and was able to get the firearm,” said Mincks.

Because a background check was performed, the store is not responsible, the sheriff added.

A search of Dagnesi’s home yielded a chrome-plated .380 handgun loaded with four rounds of ammunition, Mincks said. Agents arrested Dagnesi on a third-degree felony charge of having a weapon while under disability, Mincks said.

Dagnesi remains incarcerated in the Washington County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bond.

Mincks said these latest arrests are the result of a long-term investigation.

“We get a little piece of information to add to the puzzle, then we get another piece and another until we can get warrants and make an arrest,” he said.

These three arrests are a drop in the bucket for local law enforcement as Mincks said his office works from 200 to 300 drug trafficking cases each year.

“This area is a ‘demand’ area for drugs and we have addicts here that traffickers know about and are fueling,” Mincks said. “A balloon of heroin is about $5 or $10 in Columbus and will sell for a lot more here, so people from bigger cities are buying cheap and making a lot of money on the poor addicts in Washington County.”

Mincks said traffickers in Columbus often seek young women in local bars to hire as mules, a person who transports the drugs.

“It is a sad situation and we are doing what we can to clean the community,” he said.