Skip to main content
Press Release

Operation Smoke and Mirrors Update: Charleston Woman Sentenced to Prison for Role in Drug Trafficking Organization Case

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Nicole Leigh Fierbaugh, 44, of Charleston, was sentenced today to one year and 10 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Fierbaugh admitted to her role in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that operated in the Charleston area.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between October 2022 and March 22, 2023, Fierbaugh conspired with other individuals to sell quantities of methamphetamine. Fierbaugh admitted to collecting money from customers and using that money to purchase methamphetamine from a co-defendant. Fierbaugh further admitted to delivering methamphetamine to the customers while usually keeping some of the methamphetamine she purchased with their money for her personal use.

On January 30, 2023, Fierbaugh arranged by phone to purchase methamphetamine from a co-defendant, who directed her to a woman who lived at his Charleston residence. Fierbaugh admitted to providing the woman with $160 in exchange for approximately 10.5 grams of methamphetamine.

Fierbaugh 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.

Fierbaugh 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 presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy B. Wolfe is prosecuting 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 March 7, 2024

Drug Trafficking