U.S Marshal’s West Virginia task force makes drug seizures and fugitive arrests following 5-day operation

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Law enforcement officials seizing drugs and securing suspects following a weeklong search throughout regions around Southern West Virginia to find just that.

The U.S Marshals Southern District of West Virginia CUFFED Task Force and Task Partners just completed a 5-day warrant sweep called Operation True Optics targeting the greater Greenbrier, Fayette, and Raleigh Counties.

The warrants served from June 26 to June 30 as part of the operation were for various offenses including: Homicide, Kidnapping, Malicious Wounding, Wanton Endangerment, Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Possession with Intent to Deliver.

Deputy U.S Marshal for Southern District of West Virginia Mark Waggamon came on MetroNews Talkline Wednesday following a news conference at the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department discussing the results of that search, and he said it also involved a variety of warrants themselves, whether for those already charged or those avoiding authorities.

“Some of them are in reference to direct indictments done in those three counties, some of them have been evading apprehension for a while, and that’s why they call us in,” Waggamon said.

U.S Marshal Micheal Baylous said at Wednesday’s news conference that the agencies involved successfully carried out the mission they were assigned to do as part of the operation.

“Operation True Optics was our operation to take light into those dark areas where fugitives like to hide, and we were very successful with this operation,” Baylous said.

A total of 48 suspects were arrested, nearly 250 grams of Fentanyl was seized, along with over 98 grams of methamphetamine, 12 grams of crack cocaine, a little over 11 grams of marijuana, 5 firearms and approximately $182,187.

Waggamon said U.S Marshals have jurisdiction that ranges past the state of West Virginia, which allows them to track suspects who may have fled and assist law enforcement agencies with those suspects that go beyond their reach.

“A lot of these agencies, they contact us after grand jury, obtaining a warrant, or you have these violent fugitives just evading apprehension from law enforcement that know they are wanted, and that’s how we help them out,” he said.

Baylous said a total of 40 arrests were made during the operation, all of them were suspects of violent crimes, and some of them include Harry Burks of Raleigh County for Kidnapping and Endangerment; Henry Scales, which was a Fayette County warrant but he was arrested in Raleigh County for First Degree Robbery and Malicious Assult; and Chris Johnson out of Parkersburg who fled to Southern West Virginia with First Degree Murder charges.

Raleigh County Sheriff James Canaday said that through the cooperation of the agencies as part of the task force they were able to complete last week’s investigation of the murder-suicide in Shady Spring, identifying John Carpenter as the suspect of that shooting death.

“We were able to divert those resources temporarily and have an influx basically of man power to assist in not only securing two separate crime scenes, but also in looking for a violent fugitive,” said Canaday.

Carpenter, however, took his own life shortly after officers located him at a Beckley residence last Thursday.

Over 20 law enforcement agencies were involved in Operation True Optics, with the residing theme they all seemed to keep reiterating following its success was how much more effective they were by working together.

“This is something that one agency would have a difficult time in doing, coordinating and arresting so many folks in such a short amount of time, it just shows that we do so much better when we work together,” said Baylous.

Along with the U.S Marshals of Southern District of West Virginia, the U.S Marshals in the Eastern District of Kentucky, the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Greenbrier, Wyoming and Mercer County Sheriff’s Offices, and the Beckley and Lewisburg Police Departments all took part in the operation.