RALEIGH COUNTY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – Today, the Beckley-Raleigh County Drug and Violent Task Force held a press conference at the Beckley Police Department to announce that 12 Raleigh County individuals have been arrested for dealing fentanyl. According to Raleigh County Sheriff Scott Van Meter, there are outstanding warrants for seven more individuals involved in the investigation.
The investigation was conducted by the Beckley-Raleigh County Drug and Violent Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional unit made up of the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department, the West Virginia State Police, the Beckley Police Department, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources police, as well as all federal agencies, including the United States Marshal Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), etc.
The 12 arrests were made this morning across Raleigh County in Glen Daniel, Stanaford, the Pluto Road area in Shady Spring, Harper Road, West Virginia Route 3, and in several areas within Beckley city limits.
During the arrest, officers confiscated 12 grams of heroin, 20 grams of methamphetamine, 48 grams of fentanyl, four firearms and $7,000 in U.S. currency. This didn’t include anything seized prior to today and did not include the entire haul of the operation.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield made sure to mention the potency and danger of fentanyl, which is 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. According to Hatfield, two to three milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal to an adult.
“This is a situation where this is a drug that we can’t really allow to run on our streets,” Hatfield said. “We really need to get it off the streets as quickly as possible, and that might mean conducting these types of drug sweeps in the future…”
This particular drug operation has been three to four months in the making and is still ongoing. Hatfield believes the seven remaining individuals will be apprehended soon.
The arrested individuals will be set for preliminary hearings within 10 days if they are unable to make bond and 20 days if they are able to make bond. Those who cannot make bond will remain incarcerated until their hearings.
Assistant prosecutor Josh Thompson, who handles most of the county’s felony and narcotics cases, will assist Hatfield in conducting these hearings, so they do not linger in the court’s docket.
While all individuals are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, Hatfield did mention West Virginia Code 60A-4-415, which determines an individual’s penalty based on the weight of fentanyl they had in their possession and were intending to sell or had already delivered.
The per-offense penalties include not less than two nor more than ten years for a net weight of fentanyl less than one gram, not less than three nor more than fifteen years for a net weight of fentanyl that is one gram or more but less than five grams, and not less than four nor more than twenty years for a net weight of fentanyl that is five grams or more.
Those arrested with charges include the following:
Michael Wallance- two counts of delivery
Linda Lusk- two counts of delivery
John Blankenship- two counts of delivery
Stephen Hunt- two counts of delivery
Matthew Bragg- three counts of delivery
Brandon Morris- one count of delivery
Brian Nowajewski- three counts of delivery
Jerry Cook- two counts of delivery
Carlos Blevins- one count of possession with intent
Bobbie Williams- two counts of delivery
Stay with Lootpress as this story develops.