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Federal fugitive arrested after being on the run for a month

Photo from Pike County Detention Center

BLOOMINGTON – After being on the run for over a month, a defendant in a federal drug case was caught at a residence in Magoffin Tuesday night.

Magoffin County Sheriff Bill Meade told Mortimer Media Group, “We’ve been in the process of following up on numerous leads since the execution of the search warrant on Greg Howard’s residence. Through those efforts we were able to identify a location on Bloomington Loop where Greg Howard was at. Myself and several of my deputies and Kentucky State Police arrived at the residence and were able to secure the perimeter of the residence,” Meade said of the Tuesday, September 19 raid to arrest Howard.

When they entered into the Bloomington Loop home, law enforcement found Howard and took him into custody without incident. The federal warrant was served on him in the morning hours of September 20 and he was transported to Pike County Detention Center, where he remains in custody for the U.S. Marshals.

Howard had been on the run since a search warrant was executed on his property on August 17, when Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, Operation UNITE, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Kentucky State Police, raided a Howard’s home in an attempt to serve a federal arrest warrant on him and a federal search warrant on the home. When police turned onto his long driveway, however, Howard reportedly was able to see them coming and ran before police could secure the home.

On Thursday, August 24, a federal grand jury in Pikeville handed down a 17-count indictment against Gregory Howard, 51, and Jesse Murrell Jr., 53, both of Salyersville.

The indictment alleges the two men conspired together distribute a quantity of pills containing oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance from March 2022 through August 17, 2023.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, Howard is facing 13 distribution of controlled substances containing oxycodone and Murrell is charged with three counts of the same charge, all from specific dates surrounding individual controlled buys that occurred in May through August this year.

Murrell was arrested on August 28 by the Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office and was taken to the Pike County Detention Center, where he remains in custody for the U.S. Marshals. A jury trial is scheduled for him for Monday, October 16, at 9 a.m. in Pikeville. He also has a detention hearing set for September 29.

Howard is required to forfeit $37,710, which was already seized from him during two different events dated March 24, 2022, and August 17, 2023.

Each of the 17 charges included in the indictment carry a potential penalty of not more than 20 years imprisonment, not more than a $1 million fine, and at least three years supervised release. If a defendant has a prior felony drug offense, which Greg Howard does, the penalty raises to not more than 30 years imprisonment, not more than a $2 million fine, and at least 6 years supervised release.

Greg Howard is currently on probation for a 2017 conviction on the charge of possession with intent to distribute a quantity of pills containing hydrocodone. In December 2017, Howard was sentenced (via a plea deal) to 36 months in prison, running concurrently with the 12 months he received for violating probation in his 2013 federal drug case, as well as six years of probation, running concurrently with three years he received for violating his probation in the earlier case.

Sheriff Meade also notes that future charges are possible in relation to individuals at the residence where Howard was subsequently found and taken into police custody. He said that the DEA and federal prosecutor will determine if anyone should be charged with harboring a federal fugitive, but Meade said that is a possibility.

The thing to take away from this whole thing, we were able to conduct a very thorough investigation on one of the larger drug dealers in the county, getting him off the street should make a significant impact on our community. Obviously, he’s not the only one. There are others that are moving significant amounts of illegal drugs. For those folks, we’ll be seeing you soon.

We’re continuing our investigations and our goal is to take care of the problem we’ve got and we’ve got to go after the big dealers and that’ what we’re concentrating on right now.

He said they will also be investigating the “street level” dealers, as well, but the mid and upper-level drug dealers are their focus at the moment.

“Money is a big motivator,” Sheriff Meade said of the rampant activity despite his office openly investigating the drug activity in the county. “These people don’t care about the harm they’re doing to our loved ones. Doesn’t matter if they break up families. Doesn’t matter the health problems these people incur after a lengthy period of drug use. It’s greed.”

Editor’s Note: The indictment or charge of a person by a grand jury or otherwise is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ricky L Flake

    February 28, 2024 at 6:50 pm

    My brother Wendell Flake died day after he came back from magoffin county Kentucky

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