54 people arrested in largest meth bust in West Virginia history
A drug trafficking investigation in West Virginia has led to the largest methamphetamine seizure in the state’s history, officials said Wednesday.
“Operation Smoke and Mirrors,” an eight-month long investigation, led to 54 arrests and over 200 pounds of methamphetamine being seized, the Department of Justice said in a news release. Officials also seized 28 pounds of cocaine, 20 pounds of fentanyl, 18 firearms and $747,000 in cash.
More than 50 search warrants were obtained by law enforcement to complete the multi-agency investigation, with several executed on Monday and Tuesday. A federal grand jury returned three indictments charging 30 people for their roles in the drug trafficking organization, which was responsible for distributing large quantities of illicit substances in the state capital of Charleston. Another 24 individuals were charged in state complaints.
“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,” United States Attorney Will Thompson said in the 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.”
The federal indictment charges 14 of the defendants with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine at or near Charleston between Nov. 2022 and March 2023. According to the indictment, 500 grams of methamphetamine or more were attributed to Antonio Lamar Jeffries, 34, Tres Avery Davis, 34, Michael Allen Roberts, Jr., 40 and Telisa Rene McCauley, 31. Karl Lamont Funderburk, 37, was charged with having 50 grams or more of the substance.
A separate, one-count federal indictment charges Alexandria Jasmine Estep, 21, Robert Dewayne Miller, 35, Perry Johnson, Jr., 29, and Dashounieque Lashay Wright, 26, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine at or near Charleston between Oct. 2022 and Jan. 2023.
Six defendants, whose names were not confirmed by the Department of Justice, were 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.
Eight people have also been previously indicted by the grand jury as part of this investigation. Justin Allen Bowen, 40, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine in Feb. 23, and on Mar. 6, Larry Wayne Legg, 55, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The remaining defendants are scheduled to go on trial on Apr. 25.
“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,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall in the news release. “A large amount of illegal and dangerous drugs were stopped from going into our local neighborhood during the course of this investigation. The arrests today dismantled a drug trafficking network that has wreaked havoc in the Charleston area for far too long. 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.”