MATEWAN - “This has been a lengthy investigation that began approximately four months ago,” stated Matewan Police Chief D. Stratton following a drug bust and arrests that occurred late Saturday evening in the Nenni Apartment Building located on Mate Street in Matewan.
The drug investigation in this particular case stemmed from public complaints of alleged drug sales taking place from inside the apartment rented and occupied by Willis Wallen Jr., 47, and Tammy Sue Hager, 41. The tips were relayed to law enforcement and the Mingo County Prosecutor’s office. Special Investigator Eugene Crum and those who assist him became involved in the surveillance of the location over the past three weeks, during which time, 2 controlled drug buys were made. Also arrested during the sting was Walter Collins, 31, of Red Jacket, who was allegedly in the process of purchasing drugs when the raid occurred.
“We’ve been watching and waiting for the right time, and after Eugene and Dave Rockel and others became involved, they assisted us in bringing this investigation to an end,” commented Stratton. “We’re very grateful for their help. I can’t say enough about what a difference this will make in deterring drug trafficking in Mingo County.”
A large variety of prescription pills, several bags of marijuana, an assortment of drug paraphernalia and marijuana seeds and a large sum of cash were confiscated during the raid.
“This makes fifteen arrests in a time period of approximately one and a half months,” said Crum, as he was speaking of the events that have unfolded since he has been in the Special Investigator position. “I’d like to once again thank Prosector Michael Sparks and the county commission for giving me this opportunity. I made a promise to the public when I was running for the office of sheriff that my number one concern was the drugs that were running rampant in Mingo County and I’ve stayed true to that statement.”
“Having been provided the opportunity to begin the war on drugs now as opposed to when I take office in January will definitely give us a great advantage and a head start.”
I’ll tell you what I have a problem with,” said Williamson Police Chief C.D. Rockel during the booking process of the three defendants. “I think it’s a shame that the prosecutor found the need to name a special investigator to address the drug problem when it should have already been at the forefront of concern and a priority of the sheriff.”
“The drug problem in our county should never have been allowed to have reached this magnitude. I fully understand this is a problem everywhere but we wouldn’t be experiencing the high numbers we’re seeing now if they would have been curtailed over the past 8 years instead of allowing it to multiply at alarming rates.”
“This is a fact that cannot be denied.”
Crum asked the Daily News to express his appreciation to the public for the tips they have provided to law enforcement, and said that not a day goes by that he isn’t contacted in some manner, whether it be in person, over the phone or by social networks such as facebook, and says the callers provide him with names, locations and other vital information about illegal drug activity in their neighborhoods.
“We couldn’t do this job without the public’s support and we just want them to be patient with us,” stated Crum. “We take every tip seriously and we check into each one. The procedures you have to follow to arrest someone on drug violations are extensive, so these investigations are not a quick fix. Just give us time to properly do our job and I can assure you that you’ll see results.”
Chief Stratton and Matwan Police Lt. P. Mounts were assisted in the drug arrests by Crum, Chief Rockel, MCSD K-9 Officer C. Endicott, Mingo County Chief Court Marshal Yogi Croaff, Mingo County Emergency Services Director Jerrod Fletcher, Home Confinement Officer K. Wilson and others.
The three defendants were arraigned before Chief Magistrate Dallas Toler and were remanded to the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden. Wallen and Hager were charged with one count each of delivery of a Schedule I controlled substance (marijuana), possession with intent to deliver a Schedule III controlled substance (Hydrocodone), possession with intent to deliver a Schedule IV controlled substance (Alprazolam) and conspiracy to deliver. Both were issued a $100,000 full-cash bond.
Collins was charged with attempt to deliver a Schedule I controlled substance (marijuana) and conspiracy to deliver a Schedule I controlled substance (marijuana). He remains held on a $50,000 bond.
“We’re working anywhere from 12-16 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Crum. “One arrest at a time, we’re making a dent in the drug activity in the county.”