"The overwhelming majority of the offenders named in 59 sealed drug indictments have been taken into custody during today's roundup," said Prosecuting Attorney Michael Sparks.
The convention-like scene at the Williamson National Guard Armory on Armory Road in the west end of Williamson early yesterday morning included officials from five organizations — West Virginia State Police (WVSP), Williamson Police Department (WPD), the FBI, the West Virginia National Guard, and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.
There were about 80 officers from all the organizations to carry out "Operation G2," said 20-year WVSP Lt. D.M. Nelson. WVSP Sgt. John Dotson said he believed the event was named after a former guard at the Southwestern Regional Jail who had an accident which left him paralyzed. Nicknamed "G2," the guard recently had a single-vehicle accident in which he was stranded four hours before someone found him, Dotson said.
"Mingo County is fortunate to have some of West Virginia’s most diligent and resourceful drug enforcement officers," said Sparks. "Local drug dealers would be wise to assume that they are currently being investigated and will be brought to justice if they continue to violate the law."
Trooper B. R. Moore, Senior Trooper C. D. Kuhn and Corporal S. T. Harper of the West Virginia State Police and Lieutenant C. D. Rockel of the Williamson Police Department led the investigation, Sparks said.
Moore said the investigation started due to numerous complaints from Mingo County citizens regarding drug dealers about which nothing was being done.t."
Officers secured indictments and warrants by using confidential informants to conduct controlled drug buys, Nelson said, adding officers sometimes made the drug buys.
The five- to six-month investigation included buys going on several times a week and sometimes numerous a day, The four men who worked their hours in uniform worked the narcotics beat at night, buying drugs ranging from Xanax (a nerve medication) to the date-rape drug Ecstasy, Baylous said.
Over the course of the investigation, the departments confiscated three cars — A Geo Tracker, Toyota Scion, and a Toyota RAV 4 — and $13,208 in cash, and secured 162 felony charges.
Sparks has taken 41 of the 81 cases his office will be prosecuting, he said yesterday, asserting he has delegated 40 cases to his assistants Jeffrey Simpkins and Glen Rutledge.
Many of the accused dealers were arraigned at the National Guard Armory yesterday, where the National Guard provided air assistance (helicopter) to officers as they served indictments. This was the first time the Armory had beens used for a drug roundup, Dotson said, asserting it would be used in the future for these busts which were going to continue.
"We got some good people today," he added. "People who were throwing a lot of drugs on the street."
The event ran smoothly, Baylous, who was with the state's Bureau of Criminal Investigations for years said.
"Any time you have an event of this magnitude we have them (Special Response Team) on standby," he said, adding the team did enter one residence before the team assigned entered, and found no problems.
The offenders were picked up by an assigned team and taken to the armory for arraignment, and transported by 15-passenger buses to the Southwestern Regional Jail.
Law enforcement and the county prosecutor's office will continue to focus on drug abuse eradication, Sparks said, asserting the importance of establishing a drug court.
"We have to invest in drug education and drug treatment at the community level up through the state," Sparks said.
"If you are dealing to support your habit, seek treatment or sobriety will be involuntarily imposed in jail," Sparks said. " If you are dealing drugs to supplement your income, seek employment or learn to live with less because your liberty is priceless."