Prescott AZ (July 20, 2012) – The Yavapai County (Arizona) Prescription Drug Task Force, utilizing law enforcement officers from Partner Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT), deployed on July 18, 2012 throughout Yavapai County to effect arrests for the illicit sales and possession of prescription drugs and prescription fraud.
The Arizona investigation, dubbed Operation Rx, began earlier in 2012 and involved hundreds of hours of teamwork by PANT detectives tracking the trail of pills and forged prescriptions to targeted suspects. The diligence and hard work by the investigators and support staff lead to forty-two arrests.
The Task Force hopes the impact of these arrests will send a message that the use and sales of prescription drugs by illicit means will not be tolerated. The epidemic of prescription pill use, especially among young people, is a great concern.
Detectives made twenty arrests prior to the July 18 operation if circumstances indicated suspects were likely to flee and or were engaged in activities presenting immediate danger to the community. In several cases, concerned medical professionals supplied initial leads to detectives, resulting in the identification and eventual arrest of suspects.
PANT Commander Bill Suttle, assisted by PANT Sgt. James Gregory, oversaw the operation involving more than twenty members of PANT plus support staff. Sheriff Scott Mascher, Chairman of the Yavapai County Prescription Drug Task Force, voiced admiration for the investigative work by PANT detectives that culminated with the issuance of numerous arrest warrants.
In cases where public disclosure may jeopardize an ongoing investigation, that case and its information is not being shared by PANT at this time. As a result, the number of arrests documented are fewer than the forty-two completed.
The Prescott Valley Police Department facility was used as a command post and initial booking center involving arrests in the Prescott basin.
Arrest details follow:
- Christina Marrietta, 20, Cottonwood, Arizona was arrested May of 2012 for involvement in the ongoing sales of Oxcodone. Serving time in the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC).
- Jesse Allgood, 30, from Camp Verde, Arizona arrested December of 2011 for sales of Cocaine and Oxycodone. Serving time in the ADOC.
- Justin Harrington, 22, from Glendale, Arizona arrested May of 2012 for numerous counts including Identity Theft to perpetuate prescription fraud and obtain Oxycodone at pharmacy locations in the Prescott basin. Serving time in the ADOC.
- Delmar Cole, 49, from Cottonwood, Arizona arrested April of 2012 for involvement in the ongoing sales of Oxycodone/Hydrocodone from his home in Cottonwood. Serving time in the ADOC.
- Dylan Hopkins, 39, from Camp Verde, Arizona arrested in March of 2012 for selling medication obtained from his narcotic prescriptions
- Joel Deems, 42, from Sedona, Arizona arrested February/March 2012 for a Marijuana Grow and Sales in the Village of Oak Creek. Marijuana recovered had an estimated street value of $96,000. Also charged with illegal possession of prescription narcotics. Bonded out on both cases.
- Nicole Wetzel, 28, from Rimrock, Arizona. Wetzel was arrested in February of 2012 following a search warrant at her Rimrock residence. Detectives recovered marijuana, hashish, and prescription medications. Released on bail.
- Jonathan Cundiff, 34, from Prescott Valley. On December 12, 2011, a search warrant was served at Cundiff’s business in Prescott, AZ. Inside the business detectives found and seized a usable amount of marijuana, brass pipe and lighter, anabolic steroids, and various forms of prescription medications with labels removed from the bottles. Released on bond.
- Infinity Wilson, 31, from Cottonwood, Arizona arrested June of 2012 following service of a search warrant at her residence. Wilson was involved in selling methamphetamine and prescription drugs from her Cottonwood home. Remains in-custody.
- Andrea Bittenbender, 34, from Rimrock, Arizona was arrested in June of 2012 at a McGuireville gas station for Possession of Methamphetamine and prescription narcotics with intent to sell. Released on bond.
- Betty Conners, 54, from Cottonwood, Arizona arrested in Cottonwood July 14, 2012 for several counts involving the Possession/Sale of Narcotic/Dangerous Drugs. Remains in-custody on a $50,000 bond.
Arrested July 18, 2012:
- Richard Barone, 39, from New River, Arizona, was arrested for passing a forged prescription at a Camp Verde pharmacy in May of 2012. He remains in-custody on a $10,000 bond.
- Nathan Clayton, 29, from Dewey, Arizona was arrested for sales of LSD in June of 2011 from a trailer park in Prescott, Arizona. Clayton remains in-custody. Bond has not been set.
- James Derke, 49, from Camp Verde, Arizona was arrested for sales of 36 Hydrocodone pills in Camp Verde, Arizona, February of 2012. He remains in-custody on a $25,000 bond.
- Jodie Cox, 33, from Dewey, Arizona. Cox was arrested for passing over 100 forged prescriptions using a family member’s identity. She used with her knowledge as an urgent care center employee to facilitate the fraudulent prescriptions. These incidents occurred over a period of time at various pharmacy locations in Prescott Valley. She remains in-custody on a $40,000 bond.
- Robert Crawford, 49, from Prescott Valley, Arizona. PANT detectives confirmed the sales of prescription medications by Crawford in April of 2012 in Prescott Valley. He remains in-custody on a $35,000 bond.
- Jeremy Forister, 22, from Chino Valley, Arizona. In April of 2012, PANT detectives confirmed the illegal sales of prescription medications (methadone based) by Forister in the parking lot of a Chino Valley gas station. Additional pills were found during his arrest. Forister remains in-custody on an $80,000 bond.
- Brice Ibbotson, 20, from Paulden, Arizona. Ibbotson was arrested for selling prescription medications (including Clonazepam) in April 2012 from a location in Cottonwood. He remains in-custody on a $25,000 bond.
- Garan Lessar, 25, from Cottonwood, Arizona. Lessar was arrested for the sale of prescription medications (Clonazepam) in April of 2012 from an apartment in Cottonwood. She has been released on her own recognizance.
- Jesse Nanke, 19, from Prescott, Arizona. Nanke was arrested for a prior incident in May of 2012 involving possession of heroin and ecstasy following traffic stop on Highway 69. Nanke remains in-custody and bond as not been set.
- Steve Otero, 19, from Prescott Valley, Arizona. Otero was arrested for the sales of prescription medications (including Clonazepam) from a location in Prescott Valley in April of 2012. He remains in-custody on a $25,000 bond.
- Jaime Strope, 20, from Prescott Valley, Arizona. Strope was arrested for involvement in the sales of prescription medications in April 2012 in Prescott Valley. Strope is associated with Steve Otero who is listed above. She remains in-custody. Bond has not been set.
- John Thompson, 57, from Cottonwood, Arizona. Thompson was arrested for the prior sales of dangerous drugs from his home in November of 2011. He remains in-custody on a $20,000 bond.
- Dylan Zimmerman, 21, from Prescott Valley. Zimmerman was arrested for selling prescription narcotics issued to him. The confirmed buy occurred in June of 2012 in Prescott Valley. He remains in-custody. Bond has not been set.
- Chynna Jones, 23, from Prescott, Arizona. Jones was arrested for an incident in June of 2012 involving Forgery and Identity Theft in an attempt to pass a prescription in a Sedona pharmacy. She remains in-custody on a $25,000 bond.
- Peter Gonzales, 24, from Cottonwood, Arizona. During a search warrant investigation in March, 2012, inside a home on Arrowhead Lane in Cottonwood, detectives found dangerous drugs in his room. A warrant was obtained and Gonzales was arrested yesterday. He remains in-custody on a $7500 bond.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260.