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Press Release

Operation Smoke and Mirrors Update: Kanawha County Man Sentenced to More than 12 Years in Prison for Key Role in Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Justin Allen Bowen, 41, of Charleston, was sentenced today to 12 years and seven months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from in or about August 2022 to in or about December 2022, Bowen conspired with others to distribute quantities of methamphetamine throughout Kanawha County. Bowen was responsible for selling or possessing with intent to sell nearly 50 pounds of methamphetamine during the course of the conspiracy. Bowen would receive several pounds of methamphetamine at a time from his supplier, and distribute it to several of his customers.

On December 5, 2022, law enforcement officers executed search warrants at locations where Bowen had delivered methamphetamine the night before and seized a total of approximately 15 pounds of methamphetamine found in three locations. Some of this methamphetamine was located in a safe within his bedroom, along with several firearms and more than $70,000 in cash.       

Bowen is among 30 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 200 pounds of methamphetamine as well as 28 pounds of cocaine, 20 pounds of fentanyl, 18 firearms and $747,000 in cash.

Nineteen of the defendants have pleaded guilty. Indictments against the other defendants are pending. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent 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 September 11, 2023

Drug Trafficking