Marshall County Drug Task Force Announces Expansion Of Enforcement Efforts
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New interdiction units will team with Task Force
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – Officials from the Marshall County Drug Task Force announced the addition of a new tool that will be used to stop the flow of drugs throughout the region.
Sheriff Kevin Cecil, Moundsville Police Chief Tom Mitchell, Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Cramer, and U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, made the announcement on Wednesday and also provided an update on the work of the task force during its first year of operation.
According to Sheriff Cecil, five interdiction teams with two officers per team have been formed to target the transportation and delivery of drugs into and through Marshall County. All major roadways in the county will be targeted in addition to neighborhoods that need extra patrols due to suspected drug activity. The new teams will also work to interdict illegal drugs at hotels and motels, and to conduct parcel and package interdiction. The teams will support the drug task force and will be positioned to act upon intelligence that the unit provides.
Sheriff Cecil has allocated multiple vehicles, a K-9 unit, a license plate reader, and overtime funding in support of the new interdiction initiative.
“I’m excited to add this tool to our arsenal so we can continue to put significant pressure on the drug dealers that attempt to operate in Marshall County,” said Sheriff Cecil. “By having interdiction officers on the road we’ll be able to react much more quickly to illegal drug activity, and seize illegal drugs before they make it to the streets of Moundsville, Glen Dale, Benwood, and other communities within the county.”
In addition to announcing the interdiction efforts, the task force board members discussed the early successes of the group. In 2013, investigations by the task force resulted in 64 people being arrested or indicted on a total of 277 felony charges in state and federal court. A total of $578,000 in assets have been seized and either have been forfeited or are in the process of being forfeited.
Over 1,000 dosage units of prescription pills were seized by the task force in 2013, including quantities of oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, lorazepam, and hydromorphone. Agents also seized heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and synthetic drugs.
Last week the task force wrapped up the successful prosecution of cross-country prescription painkiller distribution ring. The acts in the conspiracy occurred over a period of three years and involved large quantities of pills being shipped from California to Moundsville via the U.S. Postal Service. The pills were then re-distributed in the Moundsville area by members of the conspiracy. Five people were convicted in federal court and each face up to twenty years in prison.
The Marshall County Drug Task Force includes officers and agents from the Sheriff’s Department, the Moundsville Police Department, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. It also receives support from the Office of National Drug Control Policy because of Marshall County’s designation as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) in 2012. This federal HIDTA funding allows the task force to conduct more extensive investigations and to be more aggressive in its pursuit of mid and upper-level drug trafficking organizations.
“I’m proud to be a part of the task force and I’m very pleased with results it has produced in just twelve months,” said Chief Mitchell. “By putting all of our agencies together onto one unit we’re able to be much more effective in keeping Moundsville and the surrounding region a safer place for everyone.”
“We’ve never had more of a need for a drug task force than right now,” said Sheriff Cecil. “This unit is critical to keeping the pressure on those who try to profit from the sale of pills, powders, and other substances in the county.”
“I’m thrilled that the Marshall County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is a part of this task force,” said Prosecutor Cramer. “The joint efforts of the member agencies have already proven to provide a great benefit to the citizens of Marshall County in combating the drug problem.”
Regular updates on the work of the Marshall County Task Force will be made by press releases from its member agencies as well as via the official Twitter feed of the United States Attorney’s Office, @NDWVnews.