Eight pounds of marijuana seized in bust

A Buckhannon man is behind bars after sheriff’s deputies seized 8 pounds of marijuana and approximately $4,000 from him over a period of several months.

Ryan Keith Gillum, 35, of 146 Gail Drive, was arrested Thursday afternoon on three felony counts of delivery of a controlled substance, Upshur County Sheriff David Coffman said during a press conference Friday morning.

Coffman said Gillum was “probably the biggest marijuana dealer” in Upshur County during the conference, which took place in Coffman’s office in the Upshur County Courthouse annex.

“I just want to say that today and the last 24 hours has been a great day for Upshur County, for the good people of Upshur County and the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department,” Coffman said. “Mr. Gillum is not a street-level dealer; Mr. Gillum is a large player in the sale of illegal drugs in our county. He’s been selling drugs for years in our county. The day that I took office Mr. Gillum went on my radar.”

Throughout the course of the investigation, the sheriff’s department also seized six firearms, three cellphones, two pill bottles, numerous boxes of ammunition and other miscellaneous drug paraphernalia – all of which were on display in the sheriff’s evidence room Friday morning.

Lewis County Magistrate Roger Clem arraigned Gillum Thursday, and he is being held in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $75,000 cash-only bond and $75,000 surety bond.

Coffman said although the department had been investigating Gillum for the past nine months, deputies made a breakthrough a few months ago.

“Several months ago, we received good information and knowledge that allowed us to initiate this investigation,” the sheriff said.

While working the case this month, deputies “utilized a reliable confidential informant to purchase marijuana” from Gillum, according to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s office. And on Thursday afternoon, deputies arrested Gillum through a traffic stop on the corner of Route 20 and College Avenue.

“We were on patrol looking for him, and he was spotted by one of my officers and we followed him to where we had appropriate manpower to make the arrest,” Coffman said. “Some of the drugs were located in (Gillum’s) truck, and a lot of the money was seized from his person and the firearms were seized at a separate residence.”

The sheriff would not comment on whose residence the six weapons were confiscated from, but noted that it wasn’t Gillum’s.

Of the 8 pounds of marijuana on display in the sheriff’s department Friday, some amounts were purchased via confidential informants and other quantities were located in Gillum’s truck at the time of the arrest. When asked if the marijuana was seized from any other location, Coffman declined to comment.

Coffman did say Gillum has been under investigation “for years not by my agency, but by other agencies,” and confirmed that some of those agencies were federal.

Gillum’s current charges may be “enhanced,” Coffman added, saying it’s possible he’ll face federal drug trafficking charges. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are likely to take place.

“I made a pledge when I took office that I would do everything I could to slow down the drug problem in Upshur County,” Coffman said. “This is going to make these other dealers paranoid, and they should be paranoid, because I have a lot of info on other dealers in our county and as soon as I cross my T’s and dot my I’s, I’ll be knocking on their door.”

“Honestly, I’ve been very nervous over the past couple of weeks because I knew we were moving so I lost some sleep,” he added, “but yesterday afternoon, it was like a ton of weight off my shoulders.”

Coffman thanked his department for their efforts.

“This has been a long and costly investigation and I’d like to give special thanks to Corporal Rodney Rolenson and Corporal Jason Queen for all their hard work and dedication,” Coffman said.

Gillum’s preliminary hearing in Upshur County Magistrate Court is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24.