By Mary Catherine Brooks
Wyoming County Bureau Chief
Law enforcement officials armed with warrants for 37 people suspected of illegal drug activity combed Wyoming County Friday and expect to continue over the weekend, Sheriff Randall Aliff said Friday.
The suspects face more than 100 felony counts, according to officials.
Prescription pills, cash and weapons were also confiscated in the sweep.
“We’ve arrested about 24 so far,” Aliff said Friday.
The Southern Violent Crime and Drug Task Force, West Virginia State Police, Wyoming County Sheriff’s Department and Pineville Police Department have been investigating for more than a year, Aliff said.
“These investigations don’t happen overnight,” added. “We’ve got video buys on these dealers.”
“We’ve made other drug arrests all along during this year,” the sheriff said. “This is ongoing.”
While the vast majority of the arrests Friday were connected to prescription narcotics, there were three charges linked to heroin, he said.
“When you put the clamp on these pills, then heroin comes in,” Aliff said. “It’s cheaper. Heroin also leads to more overdose deaths.”
By Friday afternoon, officers had made arrests in Baileysville, Brier Creek, Kopperston, Long Branch, Oceana and Pineville.
“We want these drug dealers to know that if they come to Wyoming County to sell drugs, then they will get caught,” Aliff said.
“We may not get them in this one, but we’ll get them in the next one,” the sheriff said.
“We’ve got a good conviction rate, good prosecution and the circuit judge is sending them away,” Aliff said.
The sheriff praised the public for every tip, saying that every piece of information that comes into the office potentially helps to eradicate the drug problem, but he added that arrests won’t happen quickly.
Building a case that will hold up in court takes time, Aliff said, and has to be done according to federal and state laws.
“Just because someone believes this guy is out here selling drugs doesn’t mean I can prove it — and I have to prove it,” Aliff said.
“We have to enforce the laws as they are written. It doesn’t matter if I agree or not,” the sheriff said.
“Drugs are flooding this nation, it’s not just Wyoming County. And it’s all about the money,” Aliff said. “There’s a lot of money in drugs. They don’t care about the people who buy. They don’t care what it’s doing to the families or the communities. They only care about the money.”
Aliff said he would not release the names of those arrested until the roundup was complete.
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