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Testimony paints picture of alleged drug house

Press Photo by Katherine Lymn This Eighth Avenue West house, shown above, is where men allegedly sold drugs including marijuana, methamphetamine and other controlled substances.

Court testimony Monday painted a picture of an alleged large-scale drug operation run by five men out of a small house on Eighth Avenue West in Dickinson.

Southwest Narcotics Task Force Agent Tim Josephson said in his testimony that evidence showed Dylan Maki, Paul Trawick, Victor Ryan, Brandon Thomas and Joey Manley allegedly ran a drug "factory" out of the residence adjacent to Dickinson State University.

At the preliminary hearing for the men at Stark County Courthouse, Josephson described what he and other officers found when they searched the house on a warrant in late May: more than 8 pounds of marijuana, 1.5 ounces of methamphetamine, steroids, cocaine, Molly -- a synthetic drug similar to ecstasy -- and a substance similar to LSD. They also found $12,000 in cash and tools allegedly used for dealing, like scales and plastic baggies.

Josephson said the case is part of an investigation into a "circle of drug houses."

The men face various felony charges of possession of and intent to sell the various drugs.

A defense attorney for the men focused on what they say was weak evidence for intent to distribute the drugs, which carries stronger penalties than the other charges of mere possession.

Based on the amount of drugs and the various paraphernalia at the house, Josephson said it was "quite obvious" the house's living room was essentially a factory used for selling drugs.

Some of the defendants' cellphones also included text messages about amounts and types of drugs, strengthening Josephson's theory of a drug business, he said.

Much of the case was built from an informant, Josephson said. Officers also had surveillance on who came and left the house in the days leading up to the search.

Despite the defense attorneys' arguments that the state's argument and evidence lacked water, Southwest District Judge William Herauf concluded there was probable cause to proceed with most of the charges.

The men remain in custody.