The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 12, 2012

First convictions result from ‘Operation Meth Death’

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — The first convictions have resulted from “Operation Meth Death,” a nine-month investigation in drug activity that netted more than 40 arrests in late August, according to a statement from Ashtabula County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini.

Rufus Tyus of Jefferson was convicted of two counts of manufacturing methamphetamine and was sentenced to five years in prison, according to the statement. He pleaded guilty to making meth in the Jefferson home of his girlfriend, as well as helping make meth in the Cherry Valley Township home of Benjamin Beckwith, Sartini said.

Beckwith also pleaded guilty to manufacturing meth in a garage at his home. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Beckwith also pleaded guilty to making meth in a vehicle that was stopped by Ashtabula County sheriff’s deputies in Williamsfield Township. According to statement, prosecutors argued that the two cases were unrelated and sentencing should be separate. As a result, Beckwith received an extra three years, Sartini said in the release.

“These cases are perfect examples of the problem methamphetamine is in our community,” he said in the statement. “These two young men had minimal criminal records. They each have family and friends that love them. They could have been productive members of our society. Instead, they became involved in the illegal drug industry and eventually began cooking (meth). It is taking away the futures of our young people.”

“Meth Death” involved investigators from a handful of law enforcement departments investigating the illegal purchase of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the making of meth. Sixty-seven people were secretly indicted in late July, and more than 40 of them were arrested in an early-morning sweep at the end of August.