Local and federal law enforcement crack down on largest meth bust in state

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  It was a long day, but a fulfilling one for local and federal law enforcement, who made a significant seizure of drugs Wednesday. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Will Thompson said 30 federal indictments were returned after an 8-month long investigation into a historic drug bust in the state.

“It is the largest methamphetamine seizure in West Virginia history,” Thompson said at the Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse in Charleston.

The attorney said they don’t know exactly how many pounds of meth were seized, but Thompson knows it’s well over 200 pounds.

The state’s southern district attorney calls methemphatmine a “nasty drug” that often leads to violence.

“It’s extremely addictive, it’s very hard on both the brain and body,” said Thompson. “It’s very hard to treat.”

On top of the meth that was seized, authorities also obtained 28 pounds of cocaine and about 20 pounds of fentanyl. Thompson said the amount of fentanyl found is equivalent to 4.5 million lethal doses.

Local and federal authorities also said they recovered 18 firearms and several hundred thousand dollars.

Joining Thompson at the press conference Wednesday afternoon was FBI special agent Mike Norwall, someone who was at the front of this investigation. Norwall was glad to see both state and local agencies coming together to make this massive bust happen.

“These arrests are an outstanding example of what federal and local law enforcement can accomplish when we work together,” Norwall said. “Our most fundamental duty is to safeguard peoples rights to live without fear of violence.”

Another 24 people were charged in state criminal complaints as part of the investigation. 18 people were charged in a three-count indictment, a majority of them from Charleston.

Police Chief for the Charleston Department Tyke Hunt said since a few dozen people colluded together in dealing with these dangerous drugs. It was only right that multiple law enforcement agencies worked together to bust them.

Chief Tyke Hunt

“We got every law enforcement agency in the state of West Virginia,” Hunt said. “It only makes sense we work together in a coordinated fashion.”

The investigation went on for many months, but law enforcement were able to track down many of those involved after receiving many tips.

“These cases start with a simple tip – and those tips can be anonymous – but you get enough folks calling in with problem areas that need to be investigated,” Hunt said

Chief Deputy Joe Crawford

Joe Crawford, Chief Deputy of the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday it would be a bad idea for anyone to think about dealing drugs such as these in the city.

“If you come here to deal drugs, chances are you’re gonna be on the wrong side,” said Crawford. “If you come to Charleston, you’re gambling.”

A spokesperson for the FBI said eight people remain at large.