Law enforcement agencies in West Virginia recently made history by conducting the largest meth bust the state has ever seen.
The eight-month-long investigation called “Operation Smoke and Mirrors” paired state and federal law enforcement agencies together and led to the arrest of 54 individuals and the seizure of over 200 pounds of methamphetamine — the largest single amount ever seized in state history.
According to a press release by the Department of Justice, the operation was a multi-agency effort that involved more than 250 members of law enforcement who obtained over 50 search warrants throughout the course of the investigation.
“We don’t know the exact poundage yet. But, it is the largest methamphetamine seizure in West Virginia history. It was significantly over 200 pounds,” U.S. Attorney Will Thompson said. “As you know, methamphetamine is a very nasty drug. It is extremely addictive. It is very hard on both the brain and the body. It also leads to violence and is very hard to treat.”
In addition to methamphetamine, investigators also seized 28 pounds of cocaine, 20 pounds of fentanyl, 18 firearms and $747,000 in cash during the drug trafficking operation.
Authorities said the operation effectively dismantled the criminal organization distributing the drugs within the state capital of Charleston.
Thompson also praised members of law enforcement who were involved in the operation.
“The takedown of this drug trafficking organization stopped a record amount of methamphetamine, as well as other dangerous drugs, from reaching our communities and causing harm,” Thompson said in a news release. “This investigation demonstrates that we will use all of our resources, including new and innovative investigative techniques, against those who target our communities with this poison. Our law enforcement partners worked tirelessly to dismantle this organization and obtain these indictments, and I commend their outstanding work and dedication.”
A federal grand jury ultimately charged 30 individuals involved in the criminal ring, while another 24 individuals were charged in state criminal complaints. The federal indictment charges 14 of the defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, 500 grams of the drug or more were attributed to Antonio Lamar Jeffries, Tres Avery Davis, Michael Allen Roberts Jr. and Telisa Rene McCauley.
Karl Lamont Funderburk was charged with having 50 grams or more of the illicit substance.
Alexandria Jasmine Estep, Robert Dewayne Miller, Perry Johnson Jr. and Dashounieque Lashay Wright were charged in a separate, one-count federal indictment for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Six defendants were also indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, while another six were indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in the same time period as the methamphetamine distribution.
In addition, eight individuals were previously indicted by the grand jury.
Justin Allen Bowen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine in February, and Larry Wayne Legg pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on March 6.
“These arrests are an outstanding example of what federal and local law enforcement can accomplish when we work together to target the individuals who threaten the safety and stability of our neighborhoods. A large amount of illegal and dangerous drugs were stopped from going into our local neighborhood during the course of this investigation,” FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall said.
Nordwall sent a warning to those who may try and fill the vacuum left by the operation.
“For anyone looking to fill the void left by those arrested, I want you to know we are not going anywhere, and the FBI and our law enforcement partners are here to find, arrest and bring to justice those who terrorize our community with violence and drugs,” he said.