A special grand jury in Patrick County recently indicted more than 190 people on more than 650 drug charges, and the roundup of suspects began Tuesday and may take weeks to complete, Sheriff Dan Smith said.
“This is the largest roundup we’ve ever had in Patrick County in terms of the number of suspects and the number of indictments,” Smith said. “The indictments are sealed until as long as September until the majority of these arrests are made.”
“It’s going to take several weeks to get the majority of these suspects arrested. It’s just so many people and resources are somewhat limited, and it’s difficult finding some of them.”
Many of the suspects are residents of Henry County, Martinsville and North Carolina, Smith said.
The investigation began in late 2017 and continued through April of this year.
“The majority of this investigation was [related to] methamphetamine and heroin and some prescription opioids,” Smith said.
Quantities of drugs involved generally ranged from 1 gram to several ounces.
Most of the charges alleged distribution of Schedule 1 and 2 drugs, and there were several charges of conspiracy to distribute Schedule 1 and 2 drugs. Some were indicted on firearms charges.
The majority of methamphetamine arrive in Patrick County from the Interstate 77 corridor and the Piedmont region of North Carolina – both generally from Surry County to Statesville – and is controlled by Mexican cartels, according to Smith. He said heroin coming to Patrick County also generally is under control of Mexican cartels.
“Durham, North Carolina, is a huge heroin hub,” Smith said.
Nine teams of law enforcement officers – about 35 officers – began making arrests Tuesday morning, and as about 4 p.m., approximately 30 people had been arrested, Smith said.
The Patrick County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation, with the assistance of the Patrick County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Virginia State Police, Henry County Sheriff’s Office and Martinsville Police Department.
Assisting the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office in making arrests are Virginia State Police, U.S. Marshals Service, Martinsville Police Department, and the Henry County, Carroll County and Pittsylvania County sheriff’s offices.
Smith said his department periodically will be releasing names of people arrested and their charges, as the roundup proceeds. He said the department was unable to release any of them as of Tuesday afternoon.
Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.