Operation Smoke and Mirrors Update: Putnam County Man Sentenced and Detroit Woman Pleads Guilty in Methamphetamine Trafficking Case
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Today, Scott Jeremy Savage, 46, of Nitro, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and Dashounieque Lashay Wright, 27, of Detroit, Michigan, pleaded guilty to use of a communication facility to facilitate drug trafficking. Both admitted to their roles in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that operated in the Charleston area.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between October 17, 2022, and March 9, 2023, Savage conspired with others to distribute quantities of fentanyl while living in Putnam County. Savage admitted to purchasing fentanyl from a co-defendant who lived in the Charleston area and to arranging transactions with this co-defendant by cell phone. Savage further admitted that the co-defendant often fronted him the fentanyl and he would pay the co-defendant back after he sold it.
On October 17, 2022, Savage sold approximately 2.23 grams of fentanyl to a confidential informant at his residence. On October 18, 2022, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Savage’s residence and seized approximately 2.93 grams of fentanyl, 2.2 grans of methamphetamine, and a loaded Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
On January 27, 2023, Savage exchanged phone calls and text messages with the co-defendant to arrange the purchase of a one-quarter ounce of fentanyl. Savage admitted that he believed he would have an easier time mixing that quantity with cutting agents to increase its volume and maximize his profits. Savage further admitted that he agreed with the co-defendant that he owed $445 from prior fentanyl transactions.
During a phone call the next day, Savage told the co-defendant that customers had complained about the fentanyl he had purchased the day before and asked the co-defendant to provide stronger fentanyl. Savage admitted that the co-defendant agreed to provide him with 4 to five grams of fentanyl. On March 9, 2023, Savage sold approximately 1.3 grams of fentanyl to a confidential informant at a Putnam County gas station.
Savage has a long criminal history that now includes 13 felony convictions. Savage’s prior felony convictions include attempt to operate a clandestine drug laboratory, exposure of children to methamphetamine manufacturing, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, fleeing in a vehicle from a law enforcement officer in reckless indifference to the safety of others, fraud and related activity in connection with an access device, and breaking and entering.
Wright admitted that she spoke by cell phone on November 28, 2022, with a co-conspirator who directed her to deliver what turned out to be approximately 3 pounds of methamphetamine to a customer in Charleston. The co-conspirator gave Wright directions to the customer’s residence by phone. Wright admitted that she knew she was participating in a drug transaction and that the bag she gave the customer contained a controlled substance, but that she did not know the quantity of the substance or that it was methamphetamine.
Wright collected money from the customer before leaving the residence by vehicle. Law enforcement officers pulled over the vehicle following the transaction, and found an additional 6.1 pounds of methamphetamine during a search of the vehicle.
Wright is scheduled to be sentenced on April 25, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of four years in prison, one year of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
Savage and Wright are 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.
Savage and Wright are 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 hearings. 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 Nos. 2:23-cr-31 (Savage) and 2:23-cr-195 (Wright).
Updated January 8, 2024