James Damico, the man arrested and jailed after a raid on his Bethesda home appeared in court Thursday.
According to authorities Damico was arraigned on possession of drugs and his property could be forfeited to the government. Damico remains in jail and his bond has been set at $20,000. Tentatively he is set to stand trial Sept. 25.
Belmont County prosecutor Chris Berhalter says the investigation was conducted by the Belmont County Drug Task Force.
"Well all of the evidence that was found in this investigation that was conducted by Chief Zdansky and the Belmont County Drug Task Force was presented to the Belmont County Grand Jury last week," he said. "After hearing this evidence, they returned an indictment for possession of drugs, a felony of the second degree."
Just after the sun came up, a Bethesda man and his girlfriend got a surprise visit from seven law enforcement agencies.
Their rented house at 103 Washington Street was raided.
Authorities say they found an alleged drug trafficking operation, drugs, paraphernalia, $8,000 in cash and a four-year-old boy.
The child's parents, 46-year-old James Damico and 30-year-old Amber Hurt, were taken to the Belmont County Jail.
Damico is charged with two counts of trafficking--one committed in the presence of the child--and Hurt is charged with one count of child endangering.
A family friend came and led the little boy away in the midst of the raid.
Neighbors thanked police for busting an operation they say drew people from all states at all hours.
"We started investigating this suspect back in 2008 when intelligence information we gathered indicated that he was supplying a major source of the drugs coming into our community," said Chief Tim Zdansky of the Bethesda Police Department. "Finally he moved here last year. And we watched traffic in and out of the house."
Neighbors say there have been deaths due to drug overdoses, supposedly among Damico's alleged customers.
"It's a growing problem, death by overdose," said Belmont County Sheriff Fred Thompson. "It's very possible that some of the drugs these people have used and died from have come from this individual."
Police say it's no coincidence that major players in the drug trade choose small towns to set up their operations.
"Drug dealers prey on communities this size," says Chief Zdansky. "Because they know we don't have the resources or the manpower to stay after them. In this investigation, our officers here, after work, spent about 2,000 hours of their own time."
The raid was carried out by Bethesda Police, the Belmont County Sheriff's Department, Barnesville and St. Clairsville Police, the Belmont County Drug Task Force, the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio State Park Rangers.
Jail officials say Amber Hurt's bond is set at $2500, while James Damico's is $250,000.