Duo Faces Slew Of Charges In Crack Ring Takedown

Anthony Thompson (L) and Albert Banks (R)
By  | 

GEARY COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) -- Authorities have arrested 94 people in connection with a massive crack cocaine bust in Riley and Geary County and while officials aren't identifying the alleged ringleaders, two men are facing a very long list of charges in the big takedown.

Albert Banks, 31, and Anthony Thompson, 30, both of Junction City, appeared in Geary County District Court Thursday for status hearings along with dozens of other people arrested in the drug raids that took place last week throughout the area.

Geary County Attorney Steve Opat said both men are charged with conspiring with one another to distribute cocaine.

Separately, Banks is charged in one criminal complaint with 25 counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and in a second complaint, he's charged with 18 counts of conspiracy, criminal use of a communication device (using a phone to set up a drug deal, according to Opat), and distribution/sale of cocaine.

Thompson, meanwhile, faces 20 counts of conspiracy, distribution and criminal use of a communication device in one case and in another, he's charged with 79 counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Both men are being held on $600,000 bonds in the Geary County Jail and will appear in court again on June 13th for status hearings.

Opat declined to comment on whether authorities believe the two men were allegedly running the drug dealing organization but he did confirm that they are facing the most charges.

Albert Banks is preparing to stand trial in July, Opat said, in Geary County District Court for Aggravated Assault and Felon in Possession of a Firearm stemming from a 2011 shootout in the 600 block of N. Eisenhower in Junction City. Banks exchanged gunfire with another man during the altercation and was shot in the leg.

The crack ring operation spanned 13 months and involved multiple state and local agencies. The investigation came to a head last week when authorities raided locations in Junction City, Manhattan, Ogden and Grandview Plaza, leading to the 94 arrests and the seizure of drugs, cars and guns.

Officials say it's the biggest drug bust in decades- possibly ever- in the Manhattan and Junction City area.

For the past 13 months, the Geary County Attorney's Office, Geary County Sheriff's Office, Junction City Police Department, Grandview Plaza Police Department and Kansas Bureau of Investigation have been working the case.

Undercover agents and officers, confidential informants and surveillance were used during the drug probe, dubbed "Operation ADABAG."

Working on intelligence they developed on the streets, drug units in Riley and Geary County worked with the KBI to bring down the drug ring.

"Late in 2012, about October as I recall, was when we started to identify that this was a significant ring that was operating in our area distributing crack cocaine and I think at that time was when we really started to look hard at this organization," Junction City Police Chief Tim Brown explained. He said more arrests are expected.

More than 180 members of law enforcement were involved in the operation.

During the 54 search warrants, 16 firearms, 18 cars were seized. Crack cocaine was also seized along with other illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia.

"Crime repeats itself. Our aims to is to prevent the repetitive nature of these crimes and if you allow them to go on, they go on unimpeded. Hopefully, this will put a dent and will slow things down and people will see the impact that it will have in the future," Steve Opat said.

Officials said 17 children were also displaced during the operation and have been placed in protective custody. In some cases, both of their parents were arrested.

"Operation ADABAG" continued to unfold Thursday. Geary County Sheriff Tony Wolf confirmed that the search warrants and arrests being made in Topeka are part of the crack bust. Those arrested were to be brought to Geary County to face charges. The sheriff did not know how many search warrants were being issued or how many people were placed in custody.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says officers and agents executed three search warrants in Topeka and one in Olathe linked to Operation ADABAG.

During the Topeka and Olathe raids, the KBI says agents seized cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and pills, plus two loaded handguns and four vehicles. In addition to the arrests, one child was placed in protective custody.

The latest raids bring the operation to the following levels:
58 search warrants executed in four counties
18 children displaced
18 firearms seized
$42,907.63 seized
23 vehicles seized
100 persons arrested

The KBI says additional arrests are expected.