Calif. deputy convicted of drug trafficking in York County
A California deputy was found guilty of trafficking hundreds of pounds of marijuana between North California, Florida and York County, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Christopher Mark Heath, 38, of Bangor, California, was convicted of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, conspiracy to manufacture and distribute 100 kilograms of marijuana and conspiracy to launder drug proceeds, according to the release.
Heath, who is a former Yuba County Sheriff’s deputy, along with Tyler Neil Long, 33, Ryan Jay Falsone, 28, and Ramona Marcel Long, 57, who is Heath’s mother-in-law and Long’s mother, were federally charged last year for their involvement in the drug trafficking, according to officials. Heath's co-defendants pleaded guilty to their involvement, according to the release.
It took the jury two hours to determine that Heath was guilty, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The drug trafficking took place from September 2014 to January 2016, according to the release.
The background: Heath, Tyler Long and Falsone were charged locally last year after they were found with nearly 250 pounds of high-quality marijuana
Police seized Heath's work handgun, plus the millions of dollars worth of pot, on Dec. 29, 2015, when they arrested him, Tyler Long and Falsone for delivering what officials said was a massive haul of weed to a home in the first block of Frogtown Road in West Manheim Township.
The trio had around 122 packages of weed, each containing a pound or more of the drug, according to police.
Police say Heath and Tyler Long admitted to bringing the marijuana from California.
In March 2016, the local charges were dropped when federal law enforcement took over the investigation.
Their indictment states the first sign of the conspiracy between the four Oroville, California, residents came Sept. 11, 2015, when they mailed 3.44 pounds of weed from the Oroville post office where Ramona Long worked to a York County address.
The indictment said Ramona Long used her job as a post office supervisor to make sure authorities didn't find the drug shipments.
Two weeks later, they received payment in the mail from a Mountville, Lancaster County, post office to a P.O. box in Bangor, California, according to the indictment. So that day, they sent another 4.56 pounds of pot to a York County address, the indictment states.Three days later, the Bangor P.O. box received another payment mailed from Mountville, the indictment states.
Transactions continued in this vein for the next three months, documents state, with about 130 pounds of weed sent from that Oroville post office to addresses and post offices in York City, New Salem, Hanover and Mountville and $500,000 in payments sent back from post offices in the area.
The last drugs were sent out Dec. 10 and the last payment six days later, the indictment says.
Then, on Dec. 27, 2015, the three men set out from their California homes in two vehicles carrying 200 pounds of what York County authorities have called high-quality marijuana, according to the indictment.
Heath, who was driving a pickup truck with the big haul of pot, had a gun and his sheriff’s deputy badge, the indictment states.
The York County Drug Task Force seized Heath's gun plus what police said at the time was millions of dollars worth of weed, as well as more than $500,000 in cash.
Pot varieties among the seized bags included Super Skunk, Purple Kush, Black Lime, Big Red, XXX and Sour Diesel.
The Yuba County Sheriff's Office said Heath was on vacation when he was arrested. Heath, who served on a narcotics task force, resigned after the charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Heath has not yet been sentenced, the release states.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.