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34 arrested in drug probe
Friday, September 21, 2012
From Bulletin staff reports
A 17-month drug investigation led to the arrests of 34 people on Thursday in connection with various incidents, including one in which 36 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of almost $1.4 million was seized, according to authorities.
Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry said that seizure was “the largest one I know of (to have happened) in our area, period.”
Neither Perry nor Capt. Ricky Walker of the sheriff’s office’s investigations division would elaborate on the seizure, or who was arrested in regard to it, because an investigation is continuing.
The arrests stemmed from indictments issued by a Henry County grand jury on Monday, according to a release from the county sheriff’s office. The indictments were sealed Monday.
Perry said the arrests allegedly include members of “a very large drug ring.”
The joint drug operation was conducted in Henry County between January 2011 and May 2012. It involved the county sheriff’s office, Virginia State Police, Martinsville Police Department and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), according to the release.
“We hope it has a very big impact” in curbing the sale and distribution of illegal drugs in the area, Perry said.
At least, it should make it harder for people to buy drugs locally, he said.
Undercover drug purchases were made, search warrants were administered and vehicles were stopped in the Ridgeway, Horsepasture, Collinsville, Bassett and Axton areas of the county. Authorities either purchased or seized quantities of cocaine ranging from 1 gram to 36 kilograms with various street values ranging from $100 to $1,393,900, according to the release.
Quantities of Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Roxycontin were purchased with values ranging from $5 to $40 per pill, the release stated. Methamphetamine was seized in quantities ranging from 1 gram to 4 ounces, and street values ranged from $100 to $4,800, the release added.
Also, quantities of marijuana were seized ranging from half an ounce to 15 pounds with street values ranging from $20 to $21,000, the release noted.
During the operation, various items were seized due to alleged narcotics trafficking, including a house, eight vehicles, 73 firearms and $70,000 in cash, according to authorities.
The investigation resulted in a total of 152 felony and six misdemeanor state criminal charges lodged against 76 adults, authorities said.
It also led to 35 federal charges being lodged against six men and two women, the release stated.
According to the release, 32 other people still are being sought under sealed indictments on the following charges:
• 28 felony charges of distribute cocaine.
• Four felony charges of distribute marijuana.
• One felony charge of distribute Schedule II substance.
• Three felony charges of distribute Schedule III substance.
• Four felony charges of distribute methamphetamine.
• Three felony charges of distribute imitation controlled substance.
• One felony charge of conspire to commit felony.
• One felony charge of possess cocaine.
• One felony charge of possess Schedule III substance by inmate.
• Three felony charges of attempt to possess Schedule III substance.
• One felony charge of obtain money by false pretense.
• Three misdemeanor charges of obtain money by false pretense.
• One misdemeanor charge of obstruct justice.
An indictment does not indicate guilt. It is a grand jury’s determination that there is enough evidence to hold a trial.
Walker said he is certain “a lot of these folks (who have not yet been arrested) know who they are,” based on who was arrested Thursday.
“The best thing they can do is turn themselves in,” he said.
“If you deal drugs, sooner or later we’re going to catch you,” Perry added.