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Dozens arrested in large scale drug warrant sweep in Jackson County, W.Va.

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 12:55 PM EST
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JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Dozens of people have been arrested in a large scale drug warrant sweep that is underway in Jackson County, West Virginia.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office saying ‘Operation Centennial Sweep’ is the largest drug investigation warrant sweep in state history. It began around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

“During the course (of the election), I made a decision that we’re going to issue a challenge to our guys and if the election goes favorable, then I would kick off the term with what we now know is the largest drug scale investigation in the history of West Virginia,” said Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger. “It’s the largest by volume the state has ever had.”

Sheriff Mellinger says they have warrants for 113 different people.

Deputies said the warrants are for drug offenses including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, prescription narcotics and marijuana. There was also several people facing property crimes and firearm crimes.

“Property crime and various firearm tend to go hand-in-hand with the drug culture,” said Sgt. Camron Saltsgaver with Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. “That’s why the drug culture and crime are so important in Jackson County.”

The sweep is a joint effort between the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Ravenswood Police Department, Ripley Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, West Virginia State Police and the Division of Natural Resources.

Sheriff Mellinger said they have been planning the operation for roughly one year.

“The key to these (operations) are fast and efficient,” he said. “You get as many bodies in custody and execute as many warrants as you can quickly (and) efficiently before anybody gets hurt.”

“Drug crimes by nature, they’re intricate and thorough,” Sgt. Saltsgaver told WSAZ. “It takes time, a lot of manpower and different investigations to complete. That’s one reason that it took us as long as it did to fence out the major players and the actual suppliers to the area.”

Everyone that was taken into custody was processed through mobile tents outside of the Sheriff’s Department in order to limit the potential exposure to COVID-19. Sheriff Mellinger said COVID-19 did make the task more difficult due to the Sheriff’s Office and courthouse having to be shutdown last week from exposures.

“Nothing came into the sheriff’s office, nothing is going into the courthouse,” he told WSAZ. “Between the hand sanitizer, masks and various other protocols we have here, we’re trying to minimize the exposure to the public but still make our job as efficient as we can.”

The operation was spearheaded by the Jackson County Bureau of Investigations.

”It speaks volumes to the level of commitment we have to the drug trade here in Jackson County,” said Sheriff Mellinger.

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