Three men connected to the Keeton Corrections halfway house face federal drug distribution charges, U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman announced during a Department of Justice news conference Monday.

A federal grand jury in Paducah last week indicted DeAnthony Woods, 32, of Paducah; Ralph Gaines Jr., 31, of Paducah; and David Jones, 27, of Madisonville. They are each charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine. Gaines is also charged with possession with use or carrying of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The indictment stated, between April 12, 2019, and May 28, 2019, Woods, Jones and Gaines "knowingly and intentionally possessed with intent to distribute and distributed 50 grams or more of a mixture of a substance with a detectable amount of methamphetamine."

Woods, Gaines and Jones all face a minimum of five years in a federal facility.

"We worked very closely with state probation and parole to just do a better job of cleaning up the Keeton Corrections Center," Paducah Police Chief Brian Laird said. "The community in that area has suffered for a long time in dealing with a lot of the criminal element within that surrounding area."

The charges stem from a two-month Paducah Police investigation at Keeton, which led to the arrest of eight people on drug-related charges in April.

"These individuals are career criminals," the police chief said "They've been selling drugs in our community for a long time and it's a benefit to this agency as well as to the community to partner with the federal government to make sure we get as much jail time as we can out of these individuals."

Coleman, the U.S. Attorney, echoed the police chief's sentiments.

"It's not about numbers that we're taking out of the community, it's about taking out the most violent offenders for the most significant period of time," he said. "It's about incapacitating the worst of the worst so that they don't harm neighborhoods and families here in McCracken County."

Coleman spoke of his and the federal government's commitment to increasing their presence in western Kentucky.

"What you're seeing is yet another chapter in a story that's continuing to be written," he said. "You shouldn't expect less from your federal government the further you go from Jefferson and Fayette counties.

"A significant amount of methamphetamine is pouring into this community and we're responding. We have a long way to go and we're certainly not there yet."

Laird emphasized the importance of cooperation between the local and federal agencies in preserving public safety.

"We appreciate the U.S. Attorney's Office reviewing this and the kind words from U.S. District Attorney Coleman to the investigation that went into this," Laird said in closing. "I think that's what's key is that we recognize that there's a problem and we did our best to address that to the fullest extent of the law."

The recent increase in federal presence, Coleman added, can be seen with the opening of the Drug Enforcement Agency and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms field offices in the city during 2018. Also connected is the reopening of the city's FBI resident office, which is expected in coming months.

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