HUNTINGTON,WV (WOWK) – For the second day in a row federal prosecutors are releasing details of a major drug operation.

Yesterday the news was about charges against those to prescribe opioids, and now it’s charges against those selling the drugs.

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart of the Southern District of West Virginia announced multiple drug arrests Thursday as part as of multi-agency operation primarily in Cabell County and its surrounding counties.
Stuart said 11 people were arrested Wednesday morning around 6 AM on drug charges as a result of “Operation Flat Tire”.

In total 23 people are being charged with the distribution of methamphetamine and heroin.

“Officers arrested two individuals in Akron, Ohio, nine individuals in Huntington and Charleston. Two outstanding in Akron and two outstanding in west Virginia. . . prior to this there were eight defendant already in custody,” said Stuart.

The U.S Attorney also added, “We continue with a sense of urgency to rid West Virginia of drug traffickers, drug dealers, the poison peddlers that have really brought the poisons to places like Huntington”.

During the arrests at least 22 pounds of meth, 300 grams of heroin, at least 15 firearms, some of which were high powered, and fentanyl were seized.

Stuart also said the operation broke up  a major drug trafficking ring that spread from Akron to the Southern District of West Virginia. 

“Those folks arrested in Akron, Ohio. . . I will says this everyone of those folks is coming back to West Virginia to be prosecuted”.

He also said this the third major drug bust in less than a week. Eleven  doctors were arrested Tuesday as part of the ARPO investigation.

“I doubt at anytime in the history of West Virginia we have had more back to back to back enforcement actions,” said Stuart.

The anti- drug crackdown involved 200 law enforcement officers in what Stuart calls an historic multi-agency collaboration of state, local and federal officials, including the Cabell County Sheriffs Office. 

“It’s very rare that you see this many agencies. . . This widespread county, city, federal. . . stretching out to other states,” said Sheriff Chuck Zerkle, Cabell County Sheriffs Office.

The U.S Attorney said this might of been the most extensive team perhaps ever assembled in the history of West Virginia to work on one drug operation.

The majority of the drugs were distributed in Cabell, Putnam, and Kanawha counties, and Stuart said in addition to the arrests today he anticipates more additional arrests, as result of this investigation”.

ORIGINAL STORY:

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced multiple indictments today charging numerous individuals with participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin which operated between Akron, Ohio and West Virginia.  The indictments and subsequent arrests resulted from an extensive, joint investigation spearheaded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The investigation resulted in two indictments charging a total of 21 individuals for their roles in distributing large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin, primarily in Cabell, Putnam, and Kanawha Counties in West Virginia.   Also included in the charges is information uncovered in a separate investigation conducted by the Huntington Police Department. 

Other agencies which participated and assisted in the investigation include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Ona Violent Crime and Drug Task Force West, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team, the West Virginia State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, the Beckley/Raleigh County Drug and Violent Crime Unit, the United States Marshals Service, the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department, the Charleston Police Department, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Akron, Ohio Police Department, and the Brecksville, Ohio Police Department. 

“This case demonstrates the incredible commitment of federal, state and local law enforcement to work collaboratively and cooperatively across jurisdictional boundaries to shut down the pipeline of drugs flowing into West Virginia,” said Stuart. 

“Drug dealers are trying to take advantage of the addiction problem this community and the entire state faces,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones. “They have chosen West Virginia to do business, but I’m here to tell them today, to take their business elsewhere. We and our law enforcement partners will use every tool we have to stop criminals from exploiting the vulnerable people.”  

This long-term investigation uncovered an ongoing scheme to transport large quantities of crystal methamphetamine and heroin from Akron to West Virginia.  The drugs were then distributed across the Southern District, primarily in Cabell, Putnam, and Kanawha Counties.  During the investigation, agents were able to purchase large quantities of methamphetamine and seize large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin.  It is believed that the shuttering of this drug conspiracy will continue to address and curtail the availability of highly pure methamphetamine and heroin in West Virginia.