A Colorado man was convicted Tuesday for his role in trafficking large amounts of LSD, an illegal hallucinatory drug, so that it could be sold to middle and high school students in Davie and Forsyth counties.
Ronald James Williams, 35, of Loveland, Colo., pleaded guilty in Forsyth Superior Court to one count of conspiracy to traffic in LSD.
Judge David Hall of Forsyth Superior Court gave him a mandatory sentence of five years and 10 months to seven years and nine months in prison.
Williams was the first of five men to be convicted as the result of a months-long investigation by multiple law-enforcement agencies, including the Mocksville Police Department and the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office.
The investigation began in August 2018, according to John Bandle, a special prosecutor assigned to the case. Detective M.L. Leonard of the Mocksville Police Department told the Winston-Salem Journal in 2019 that investigators received a tip from a confidential informant that Brandon Hall, then 16, was selling LSD. Leonard went undercover and did controlled buys of LSD from Hall over a period of time.
Hall was arrested and led investigators to Marco Sevilla-Hernandez Jr., 22, of Rural Hall. Leonard contacted the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, and the two agencies began working together. Leonard went undercover again and bought LSD from Sevilla-Hernandez over several months, starting in October 2018.
According to a search warrant filed in Forsyth County, Leonard bought LSD several different times at Sevilla-Hernandez's house and at locations on Hanes Mill Road and University Parkway. Bandle said investigators connected the LSD trafficking ring to another man out of Rock Hill, S.C. That man was Christopher Owens, 25.
By that time, Bandle said, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was involved, and Owens led investigators to Williams.
On Jan. 4, 2019, Leonard bought a large quantity of LSD from Sevilla-Hernandez, who told Leonard to bring the money to his house and that Sevilla-Hernandez would travel to South Carolina to pick up the LSD, according to an affidavit for a search warrant. Investigators identified Owens as the source of Sevilla-Hernandez's LSD supply. Leonard said he ultimately bought 2,900 dosage units of LSD from Sevilla-Hernandez.
It was later determined that Owens got the LSD from Williams in Colorado. On Dec. 3, 2018, Williams traveled from Colorado to Asheville to visit his sister. During that time, Leonard said, Williams met with Owens. Leonard said Owens bought 10,000 dosage units from Williams. Owens would later tell investigators that he sold some of the LSD to Sevilla-Hernandez, according to Leonard.
Officers with the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office Drug Task Force executed a search warrant for Owens' house in South Carolina and seized 1,257 dosage units of LSD, 169 Ecstasy pills, 35 grams of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. An AK-47 assault rifle, $1,387 in cash and drug paraphernalia were also found.
Williams was indicted March 11 by a Forsyth County jury on charges alleging he trafficked in LSD and he was arrested by Leonard and the U.S. Marshal's Office in Colorado. He was extradited to Forsyth County.
Bandle said charges are still pending against Sevilla-Hernandez, Owens and another man, Dylan Tyler Beck, 23, of Mount Airy. Hall pleaded guilty in Davie Superior Court to one count of trafficking LSD and received a sentence of 35 months to 51 months in prison, according to the Davie County Enterprise Record.
Christopher Fialko, Williams' attorney, said his client has been in a common-law marriage for 10 years and has two sons. He urged Hall to give Williams credit for time Williams spent in jail awaiting trial, which Hall did.