FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — What’s being called one of the largest drug round-ups in state history is happening today in Nicholas and Fayette counties.
More than 100 people have been charged with a variety of drug crimes—-totaling 300 charges in what authorities are calling “Mountain Justice.”
Those who have already been arrested are being brought to the Fayette County Courthouse for arraignment. Presently, upwards of 80 people have been arrested in a joint operation that involved 14 different agencies.
“Our Central West Virginia Task Force is really doing a phenomenal job,” Fayette County Prosecutor Larry Harrah said during an interview on MetroNews Talkline. “And when I took over here in Fayette County as Prosecuting Attorney, I wanted to make the drug problem, the drug epidemic here in my county, I wanted to make that top priority. And they have responded exceedingly well.”
The 14 involved agencies were comprised of local, state, and federal authorities.
“It was a collaborative effort between all those agencies and the state and local agencies as well,” Harrah said. “It’s through hard work. Drug work is not easy. It is something that takes time.”
The arrests were made in connection with hundreds of undercover buys.
“Most of these are undercover deliveries of controlled substances, but it’s my understanding that most of the individuals have at least two to three charges–which means that they’ve been involved in the drug trafficking multiple times to be caught,” Nicholas County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Crane told Hoppy Kercheval on MetroNews Talkline Thursday morning.
Crane said the vast majority of the cases she sees in Nicholas County usually involve drug use in one form or another.
“It seems as if drugs are kind of in the wings of just about every story that we hear,” she said. “And eliminating the distribution part of this is one facet of combatting this problem.”
In Nicholas County, police arrested 36 people in and around the Richwood area, making it the most heavily targeted area in the entire operation.
“They keep them out there,” she said. “They keep the supply going. It impacts and it drains the resources of the community. The more arrests that are made and the more punishment and examples that are made will have significant impact on the overall drug trade in my county.”
“I think we made a significant impact on the drug trade today in Fayette and Nicholas counties, specifically the Valley district here in Fayette County and the Richwood area in Nicholas County,” Harrah said.
Harrah also said the fight is nowhere near complete, and that these investigations are time-consuming.
“Now did we catch everybody?” Harrah said. “No. Are we still working hard to catch those individuals? Absolutely. This is a fight. This is an everyday battle. It’s not something that you can just say ‘well we did good today guys, let’s go home and high-fives all around.’ These guys are going to be right back at it tomorrow morning.”
Authorities released the following list of those being charged in the operation:
Daniel Copen Lola Copen A.J. Copen Samuel Bo Copen
Jesse Copen Sandy Copen Nikki Copen Stacy Williams
Brandon Carpenter Debbie Wright Jessica Ward Karrisa Griffith
Terry Lewis Sammy Kesterson Brenda Gray Janet McKinney
T.J. Sweet Belinda Seabolt Warren Ryder Mandy Hinkle
Rick Wright Chris Harris Kelly Potter Stacy Hanshaw
Sandra Cartwright Earl Taylor WitleyCogar Dave Lawrence
Misty Russell Sam Griffith Chris Redden Coy Gwinn
Randy Tinney Matt Shaffer Charlie Thomas Miranda Puckett
Brittany Potter Jason Dancy Bart Legg Crystal Cook
Mark Grose J.R. Ellison
Danny Holmes Jason Johnson Rick Meadows John Hall
Nikki Myers Candice Bess Amber Farley Stacey Bays
Candy Dillard Tim Wright Andy Rose
Birch River Area
Donna Gregory Rebecca Morris JohnCriss Pat Dillion
Mount Nebo/Ennon Area
Andrew Haas Matt Lipps Edward Stricker Eddie Hughes
Ansted/Fayetteville/Oak Hill/Mount Hope Area
Zach Hodge Andy Walton Watrina Jackson Patty Adkins
Jackie Young Chelsie Adkins Christa Smith William Smith
Austin Smith Jericho Wriston Shannon O’Dell Jerome Comer
Michael Stanley Michael Payne Marcus Brisco Keri Jacobowski
Trisha McMillan Aaron Pack Travis Hopkins Jareth Myers
Gauley Bridge/Smithers/Montgomery/Powellton/WV Route 61 Area
Michael Schoolcraft Eddie Young Joey Given Yvonne Legg
Speedy Legg George Leake, III Jeff Evans Eric Perez
Cameron Cochron Rayshawn Payne Shawn Patton Bubby Fragale
Barry Mitchell Kevin Smith