Huge Heroin Drug Ring Bust In Panhandle Nets 52 Suspects
Authorities announced Friday that 52 people in the Eastern Panhandle had been charged for involvement in a heroin drug ring. Most have been arrested and taken into custody, but at the time of this writing police are still looking for some suspects.
During a news conference at the Berkely County Sheriff’s Department, a 24-year-old man from Martinsburg has named as the suspected kingpin of the drug ring. The man has been charged with 249 offenses related to drug distribution in both Berkeley and Jefferson counties. Warrants included nearly 500 charges in Berkeley and 72 in Jefferson County.
According to officials, the investigation into the drug trafficking ring took place over several months. Jefferson County prosecutor Matthew L. Harvey said the sting was a collaborative effort, and police used wire taps, as well as ground and aerial surveillance.
Law enforcement estimate that at least a kilo of heroin was distributed in the last two months by the drug ring’s leader, through coordinated involvement of the others charged. Many suspects were already known to police and were considered “frequent fliers” to law enforcement.
The ring leader is said to be one of the biggest dealers seen in the Eastern Panhandle for some time. The investigation began in December 2016. On Feb. 1, law enforcement obtained a court order to listen to and record communications from the leader’s cell phone. Communications between the leader and others in the ring were monitored until March 12.
The leader was then observed directing, arranging, and completing heroin deals in Berkeley and Jefferson County. Among those charged are also suspected of providing funding to the operation.
Harvey said that 60-75 officers were involved in the arrests, and he gave credit to cooperation between law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, county sheriff’s offices, several police departments, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives:
“Without their dedication, this wouldn’t be possible, and I’m very proud of them, and I’d like to thank them.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology