MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials Wednesday announced the indictment of 22 drug traffickers, part of a criminal enterprise operating from “stash” houses in Philadelphia, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, and Puerto Rico.
The announcement was made by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of West Virginia, but included the collaborative efforts of the F.B.I., federal Homeland Security Agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshall’s Service, West Virginia State, and Martinsburg and Ranson city police, the Berkeley County prosecutor’s office and the sheriff’s departments for both Berkeley and Jefferson counties. Eleven of the 22 arrested are West Virginia residents.
“All the local and federal law enforcement agencies won’t tolerate individuals coming into West Virginia bringing drugs and poisoning our communities just for the sake of a dollar,” said Randolph J. Bernard, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the West Virginia northern district.
And along with dangerous illegal drugs, the syndicate was trafficking in guns.
“Many of these weapons are never accounted for and continue to pose a threat to many of our communities,” said Andre Miller with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
A serious enough threat that the federal Department of Homeland Security is committing extra manpower to the eastern panhandle.
“That includes increasing personnel in the form of special agents and intelligence analysts who will work hand in hand with task forces here in Martinsburg and around the state,” said
Mike Prado, assistant special agent in charge of the Homeland Security investigations unit.
And the U.S. Attorney’s office for Northern West Virginia hopes these arrests send a signal that, as Randolph J. Bernard put it, “will not tolerate individuals, particularly individuals from outside West Virginia, who come here to prey upon our communities for no other reason than profit.”
All of these crimes took place between the summer of 2019 and this month. And the law enforcement officials said Wednesday that the quantity of fentanyl trafficked by the enterprise was enough to kill the entire population of West Virginia twice over.
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