Officials Announce Latest Results Of Ongoing Effort To Combat Heroin Epidemic
Officials From The Justice Department, The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, The Virginia State Police And The Drug Enforcement Administration Continue To Fight Growing Problem
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA – Officials from the United States Attorney’s Office, the Virginia State Police, members of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Administration announced today the most recent results of their ongoing fight against the growing heroin epidemic in the Western District of Virginia. Among those results was the sentencing of a pair of Strasburg residents who brought enough heroin into that Shenandoah County town to provide each resident of Strasburg with a dose of heroin.
The heroin epidemic, which in recent years has seen the number of overdose deaths and injuries spike in the northwest part of the district, continues to be a top priority for law enforcement officials in the region, and across the Commonwealth.
Today in District Court, Dwayne Fletcher and Megan Wooddell were sentenced for their participation in a multi-ounce heroin distribution conspiracy in and around Strasburg, Virginia. The conspiracy, which operated for several months and obtained large quantities of heroin from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, brought enough of the drug into Strasburg to provide each of the town’s 6,398 residents with a dose of heroin.
This morning, Fletcher was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison. Wooddell was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison.
Officials also announced the sentencing of Dean Allen Roberson, 32, of Stephens City, Virginia. Roberson was previously convicted of distributing heroin which resulted in an overdose injury to another person. In that instance, Roberson traveled to Baltimore, Maryland and bought heroin. On March 21, 2014, he sold part of that heroin, and it led to the overdose of a woman in Stephens City. The victim was taken to the hospital shortly after overdosing and medical personnel concluded that if they had not intervened when they did, the overdose would have been fatal. Roberson was also convicted for his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Today in District Court, Roberson was sentenced to 15 years of federal incarceration.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force which includes the Virginia State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration continue to use all available resources to combat the epidemic rise of heroin abuse and overdose rates in the region.
In recent years, this cooperative group of law enforcement agencies has taken a proactive approach to address the rise in the use of heroin.
“Slowing the tide of heroin abuse has become an urgent priority for law enforcement,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “We must continue to vigorously pursue heroin traffickers and others who profit from the addiction of others. As we pursue this targeted enforcement, we must also support ongoing education, prevention and treatment initiatives. Like so many other issues plaguing our communities, we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem. If we want to make real progress in our efforts to end heroin abuse, we must pursue a holistic, multi-pronged approach.”
“The significance of these arrests is measured in the total number of lives potentially saved,” said Captain Gary T. Settle, Commander of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office. “Through the persistent investigative efforts of the Northwest Virginia Regional Task Force, local, state and federal law enforcement across this region remain committed to protecting our residents from a heroin epidemic that has become a very deadly reality for so many families.”
“Heroin abuse equals death. Once this drug takes hold, it shatters dreams and ends lives. The DEA tirelessly works with our schools and communities to educate our youths and adults, alike, of the perils of heroin use,” said Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the DEA’s Washington Field Office. “Today’s sentencings are the result of DEA’s strong partnership with local and state law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting criminal drug organizations that significantly affect our communities. DEA will continue to stand with our state and local authorities, dedicating all manpower and resources at our disposal to combat these ruthless heroin trafficking organizations.”
In addition to enforcement efforts, the cooperative agencies have taken a number of steps to educate the public about the dangers of heroin use and abuse. Over the course of the past 12 months, the agencies have hosted three heroin summits, which brought together community members, school leaders, prevention professionals and treatment officials for frank discussions about the heroin issue and how it can be addressed going forward.
“These initial meetings are just the beginning of what our communities need to do in addressing the heroin problem,” U.S. Attorney Heaphy said today. “We need communities hit by heroin abuse to continue this prevention work going forward. We will only be successful if we keep working as a team, across jurisdictional lines.”
The investigations of these cases were conducted by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, which includes the Virginia State Police, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Task Force includes law enforcement from the counties of Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah, Warren and Page as well as the cities and towns of Winchester, Front Royal and Strasburg.
Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Wright prosecuted the cases for the United States.