West Virginia News: CHARLESTON, Multi-State Major Drug Trafficking Network Dismantled

West Virginia News: CHARLESTON, Multi-State Major Drug Trafficking Network Dismantled

“PROJECT PARKERSBURG” ROLLED OUT THROUGH TAKEDOWN

Over 150 Pounds of Methamphetamine and 4 Pounds of Heroin

More than Two Dozen Arrested on Federal and State Charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced the formation of “PROJECT PARKERSBURG” and a major takedown today of drug traffickers resulting in the dismantling of a multi-state Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) responsible for distributing methamphetamine and heroin in Parkersburg, West Virginia. As of the commencement of operations this morning, the investigation included the seizure of more than 150 pounds of methamphetamine and 4 pounds heroin.

Joining United States Attorney Stuart in the announcement were Federal Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Nicholas Boshears of the Pittsburgh Field Office, Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin, Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Pat Lefebure, West Virginia State Police Captain Jason Davis, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens, Vienna Police Chief Mike Pifer, representatives of the Parkersburg Narcotics and Violent Crimes Task Force (PNTF) and Major Allen Tackett of the West Virginia National Guard.

The West Virginia State Police, the Arizona State Police, and the FBI Field Offices in Tampa, Cincinnati, Detroit and Phoenix provided valuable assistance in this investigation. The FBI Safe Streets Task Force in the Dayton RA, Cincinnati Field Office is deserving of special recognition for their involvement in the seizure of the methamphetamine and arrests of the primary targets of the investigation.

“The vast majority of the methamphetamine and heroin in this country came across our Southern Border,” Attorney General Sessions said. “Thanks to collaboration between law enforcement in Arizona, Florida, Ohio, and West Virginia, our prosecutors and law officers were able to dismantle a drug trafficking organization that brought methamphetamine 2,000 miles from the border to the small towns of Appalachia.

As part of this operation, law enforcement has arrested some 30 defendants and seized 150 pounds of methamphetamine and heroin and tens of thousands of dollars in alleged ill-gotten gains. And so I want to thank U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart, the FBI’s Tampa, Pittsburgh and Dayton offices, the West Virginia and Arizona state police, and all of the members of the Parkersburg Police and the Parkersburg Narcotics and Violent Crimes Task Force. By taking drug traffickers off of our streets, they are helping to keep the American people safe.”

Today’s operation is the first public announcement of “PROJECT PARKERSBURG”, a project that has been ongoing but unannounced as a result of today’s dismantling of a drug trafficking organization. The takedown today was the result of a long-term investigation led by FBI and PNTF and involved the cooperation of law enforcement authorities in several states. A total of at least 29 individuals have been charged in federal and state court and final determinations of jurisdiction for charging will be made as a result of a review of today’s arrests.

In December 2017 members of the PNTF executed a search warrant at a residence in Parkersburg during which they learned that large amounts of methamphetamine were being shipped to West Virginia from Mexico. Witness interviews, financial records, and informant information led to the identification of Parkersburg residents Terrance McGuirk, Antoine Terry, and Aurelius Edmonds as individuals with access to the methamphetamine being shipped from the southern border to locations in West Virginia and Ohio.

Over the course of nine months, agents and task force officers conducted an exhaustive investigation linking the Parkersburg DTO to sources in Arizona. On September 19, 2018, surveillance led investigators to Dayton, Ohio where Terry and Edmonds met with Arizona residents Todd Land and Troy Pastorino to pick up a large shipment of controlled substances to include more than 150 pounds of methamphetamine that had been offloaded from a truck into a rented storage unit.

Investigators observed Pastorino load the drugs into the trunk of a Dodge Charger. Police seized the drugs after conducting a traffic stop of Pastorino. Terry, Edmonds, and Land were arrested at a nearby business, and McGuirk was arrested at his hotel near the Dayton airport.

While this investigation is ongoing, investigators have been able to dismantle a DTO operating across multiple states and responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. It is believed that the dismantling of this DTO removed all of the Parkersburg area individuals with access to the Arizona source and will significantly curtail the amount of methamphetamine available for distribution in Wood County and the surrounding area.

The arrests and seizures relating to this investigation break down, as of the issuance of this press release, as follows:

17 individuals have been charged in a federal indictment in the Southern District of West Virginia with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine;
1 defendant has been charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm;
12 individuals are facing state charges filed by the Wood County Prosecuting Attorney;
Over 150 pounds of methamphetamine were seized;
Over 4 pounds of Heroin were seized;
Over $84,000 in United States Currency was seized; and
Several vehicles were seized that were used to transport controlled substances.

“Largest seizure of methamphetamine in our state’s history and a massive amount of heroin – Today is a significant day for West Virginia, the City of Parkersburg, Wood County and the surrounding multi-state area,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “A significant drug trafficking organization with connections to sources of supply in Mexico has been dismantled. Today is a day in which every participating law enforcement officer should be very proud.

The level of cooperation between our federal, state and local law enforcement agencies is unprecedented and reaches beyond West Virginia’s borders and beyond America’s borders. As a result, the largest seizure of methamphetamine in our state’s history and a massive amount of heroin was seized before it reached our streets.

No doubt lives have been saved because of the exemplary work of law enforcement at every level, the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office and my team. Today’s actions as part of “PROJECT PARKERSBURG” are merely the first step in a long-term, sustained, aggressive effort to rid our streets of the drug dealers and drug thugs that cause chaos, havoc and despair in our communities and in our families.”

“Through collaboration with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we were able to target and dismantle this criminal organization,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones. “Drug-related crimes strangle communities. The FBI will always work to stop the violence, get drugs and weapons off the streets and justice for the people living in the communities we serve.”

“The arrests made today are the culmination of many months of hard work by the PNTF and federal authorities and will have a significant impact in not only Wood County but our surrounding areas as well,” said Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Pat Lefebure.

“This investigation is an example of outstanding teamwork and collaboration of all law enforcement in this region of West Virginia that resulted in the largest seizure of methamphetamine and heroin,” said Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin. “I am very proud of the outcome of this investigation, as it is the largest seizure of both methamphetamine and heroin in the same criminal investigation in the Parkersburg area. Our mission is to identify and target these drug trafficking organizations that are polluting our city with poison. Once identified, we will do whatever is necessary to dismantle these organizations and partner with the U.S. Attorney to prosecute the members of these organizations.

The long hours worked by the investigators involved proved to be successful and worthwhile. I am very pleased with the relationship between our federal law enforcement partners and the assistance from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, Mike Stuart. These investigators from the FBI and the Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force prevented hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and heroin from getting to the streets of our community, and for this, I am very grateful.”

Please Note: An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on Thursday, October 11, 2018.