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Police - Man charged may be in biker club

August 28, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Authorities say a West Virginia man charged last weekend in connection with a drug sting may be a member of a biker group.

Authorities say, however, that biker gangs do not have a strong presence in Washington County.

Washington County Narcotics Task Force Director Pete Lazich said task force agents believe Michael Martin, 39, of 7 Wilderness Road in Falling Waters, W.Va., is a member of the Pagans motorcycle club. Lazich said intelligence gathered during the investigation into drug trade at the Dog Patch Tavern indicated Martin, the focal point of the operation, has ties to the group.

Martin was charged with three counts each of distribution of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia and one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine following the investigation that started in July, records say.

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Lazich echoed the sentiments of a task force agent quoted in court documents, characterizing Martin as a "self-admitted member of the Pagans," "a significant flight risk" and "a very real threat to witnesses in this case."

Martin was being held at the Washington County Detention Center Wednesday on $250,000 bond, a detention center spokesman said.

During questioning following his arrest, Martin denied an affiliation to the group, Lazich said.

As a result of the Aug. 22 raid, authorities also charged Donald Lee Eavey, 49, of 136 Heather Drive, Hagerstown, the owner of the Dog Patch Tavern, and nine others.

Eavey was charged with one count each of maintaining a common nuisance, according to a press release from Sgt. Pete Lazich, task force director.

Court records allege that a confidential informant purchased cocaine from Martin at least three times during the investigation.

Task force agents on Aug. 22 searched the tavern and arrested Martin, who they said was sitting at the bar when they entered.

A recent federal investigation led to the arrest of 10 Berkeley County, W.Va., residents on drug and gun charges, but Lazich said motorcycle gangs are not very active in the Washington County area.

"We receive information occasionally (about biker gangs), but I don't think it's a strong presence," Lazich said. "We didn't see a lot of connection to it here in Hagerstown."

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initiated a six-state federal crackdown on drug and gun distribution involving the Warlock motorcycle club.

On July 24, federal agents searched several homes and arrested 10 people they said were connected to the group in communities including Martinsburg, W.Va.

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