Operation Smoke and Mirrors Update: Charleston Man Sentenced to Prison for Role in Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Les Van Bumpus, 35, of Charleston, was sentenced today to eight years and nine months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. Bumpus admitted to his role in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that operated in the Charleston area.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between December 2022 and March 22, 2023, Bumpus was living in Dunbar and conspired with others to distribute what he believed was heroin but now knows was fentanyl. Bumpus admitted to purchasing fentanyl from a co-defendant who often fronted the fentanyl to him and allowed Bumpus to pay him back after he sold it.
On March 22, 2023, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Bumpus’ Dunbar residence and found approximately 89 grams of fentanyl and a loaded Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistol. Bumpus admitted to making at least $500 in profit per week from distributing fentanyl.
Bumpus has a long criminal history that includes three prior felony convictions for offenses including distribution of 5 grams or more of cocaine base in United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on April 15, 2010, and being a person prohibited from possessing firearms in Kanawha County Circuit Court on January 27, 2020.
Bumpus is among 32 individuals indicted as a result of Operation Smoke and Mirrors, a major drug trafficking investigation that has yielded the largest methamphetamine seizure in West Virginia history. Law enforcement seized well over 400 pounds of methamphetamine as well as 40 pounds of cocaine, 3 pounds of fentanyl, 19 firearms and $935,000 in cash.
Bumpus is among 27 defendants who have pleaded guilty. Indictments against the other defendants are pending. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT), the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia National Guard Counter Drug program, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Charleston Police Department, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the Raleigh County Sheriff's Office. MDENT is composed of the Charleston Police Department, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Nitro Police Department, the St. Albans Police Department and the South Charleston Police Department.
Chief United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy B. Wolfe prosecuted the case.
The investigation was part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and is the keystone of the Department of Justice’s drug reduction strategy. OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:23-cr-31.
Updated January 22, 2024