Suspect in October drug bust in York fails to show at trial

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comJune 5, 2013 

  • If anyone sees Davis or has any information on his whereabouts, call York County Crimestoppers at (877) 409-4321, the York Police Department at (803) 684-4141 or the York County Sheriff's Office at (803) 628-3056

— An accused drug dealer in York is at large after court officials say he failed to appear at a trial Wednesday to answer for charges in connection with a drug sweep in a neighborhood known to law enforcement as a hub for drugs and violence.

Jeffrey Davis, 45, was one of 15 accused drug dealers arrested in connection with Operation Fall Back, a joint sting by law enforcement and drug agents that produced 46 warrants, 31 of which were served on one Friday in October.

Officials conducted a months-long investigation into the Valley neighborhood’s street-level dealers before making their move.

The sweep required manpower from 55 officers with the York Police Department, York County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s multijurisdictional drug unit. Officers were equipped with 15 vehicles, several bloodhounds and a State Law Enforcement Division helicopter.

Davis was part of a group of defendants arrested that weekend. He was charged with two counts of distribution of crack and two counts of distribution of crack within proximity of a park.

It was his “third strike,” said Jennifer Colton, the 16th Circuit Court assistant solicitor assigned to prosecute Davis and several others netted in the drug crackdown.

On Wednesday, a judge sentenced Davis to life without parole in his absence. The sentence, Colton said, is technically sealed but, under state law, the judge had to sentence him to life because it was Davis’ third strike.

Prosecutors served him with notice to seek life without parole, which the judge had to impose if he was convicted, Colton said.

Officials on Wednesday issued a bench warrant on Davis, who is “well-known to law enforcement,” and are looking for him, she said.

Once Davis is found, he’ll have the opportunity to contest the “requisite prior strikes,” Colton said. If he’s successful, he’ll still face 10 to 30 years in prison without parole.

Davis is not considered violent, said Lt. Mike Ligon with the county’s drug unit. He is described as standing 6-feet tall, weighing 210 pounds with brown eyes, officials say.

Davis has lived in the Valley area most of his life, and is known by law enforcement to primarily deal crack, said Sgt. Rayford Ervin with the county's drug enforcement unit.

Ervin's worked with the drug unit since 1999 and said Davis' name has "popped up on occasion."

The York County Sheriff's Office, York Police Department and county drug unit have all joined in the search for Davis, Ervin said.

He was last seen in the Valley neighborhood at his home, 205 Valley Road, a couple of days ago, Ervin said.

Just four days after the October drug sweep, York Police Chief Andy Robinson vented his frustrations in a letter to media about bond amounts set on the 11 accused dealers hours after they were arrested. The amounts, he said, were low and allowed several of those dealers to return to the streets within days.

Colton said several of those dealers have pleaded guilty, including one who admitted to a judge that he sold fake crack.

“The majority of them have gotten prison time,” she said, although, “a lot of those individuals were first-time offenders.”

Davis’ dealings with drugs go back to 1989, when police in York charged him with trafficking cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute in proximity to a school. He was convicted in 1991 and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Several drug-related arrests followed in subsequent years, but his next conviction was not until 2000, when he was sentenced to four years and six months behind bars followed by three years of probation for distribution of crack cocaine within proximity to a school and manufacturing cocaine, according to records with the State Law Enforcement Division.

Six years later, he was sent to the state Department of Corrections after a conviction for distribution of crack cocaine within proximity to a school and possession of methamphetamine or cocaine.

Davis still has one pending drug charge, Colton said. Officials have placed him on "life notice" on the charge, distribution of crack cocaine.

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