BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — A drug trafficking organization (DTO) bringing drugs from San Diego, California to southern West Virginia was the target of a major takedown across southern West Virginia on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Two indictments charged 17 individuals with distributing methamphetamine and heroin.
The sweep began at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. It involved more than 200 law enforcement agents. Of the 17 people arrested, one was in San Diego, 14 were in southern West Virginia including Beckley and other locations in Raleigh County, as well as, in Fayetteville, and Bluefield. According to U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart, two of the suspects were already in custody.
The action on Wednesday was designated “Operation Shutdown Corner.” The investigation revealed packages containing pounds of methamphetamine were being shipped using common carriers like the United States Postal Service and the United Parcel Service (UPS). The dismantling of the DTO resulted in the seizure of large quantities of controlled substances, illegally possessed firearms and cash.
“Disrupting drug trafficking organizations like this one is a critical part of the FBI’s mission. The heroin, meth and guns seized are dangerous and can lead to dangerous consequences,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge, Robert Jones. “These arrests should send a message to other groups who think they can do business in West Virginia. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are pooling our resources to stop you and the violence that comes with the drug trade you deem as profitable.”
The long-term investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It involved the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Beckley/Raleigh County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.
“Today’s coordinated takedown as part of Operation Shutdown Corner is a significant achievement in our continued effort to rid West Virginia of the drug traffickers, drug dealers and poison peddlers that have caused so much pain and despair among our people,” added U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart. “From San Diego to West Virginia, today’s operation shutdown a major drug trafficking organization. Over 200 law enforcement agents from more than five states were involved in this operation without incident and according to plan. I want to thank the tremendous investigative and law enforcement efforts of all our partners at the federal, state and local levels. Great work. As a result of these indictments and arrests, West Virginia communities and West Virginia families are safer today than they were yesterday. We continue with a sense of urgency to take down and remove those who cause only harm and despair in the interests of greed and making money.”
The investigation is still going on. U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said more federal and state charges could be filed in the future.