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Press Release

Upshur County man sentenced to 15 years for his role in a methamphetamine distribution operation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia

ELKINS, WEST VIRGINIA – Thunderbolt Dean Whaley, of French Creek, West Virginia, was sentenced today to 180 months incarceration for distributing methamphetamine and a firearms charge, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced. 

Whaley, age 41, pled guilty to one count of “Conspiracy to Distribute More than 50 grams of Methamphetamine,” and one count of “Carrying a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Crime” in January 2018. He admitted to conspiring with others in distributing methamphetamines in Upshur County and elsewhere from March 2016 to September 2017. Whaley also admitted to carrying a .38 special revolver during a drug crime in Lewis County in July 2017. 

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). Project Safe Neighborhoods is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D. Warner is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives, The Mountain Region Drug & Violent Crime Task Force, the Greater Harrison Drug &Violent Crime Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, the West Virginia State Police, Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, the Buckhannon Police Department, and the Weston Police Department investigated. 

The investigation was funded by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program (OCDETF). The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.

U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey presided. 

Updated December 12, 2018

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods