By MATT DELLINGER
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — After seven months of increased road patrols by six troopers, the West Virginia State Police say they have taken $1.2 million of narcotics off the street thanks to the HIDTA funding.
“They’re pretty much outstanding,” said Captain Widmeyer, referring to the troopers. “They did better than they thought they’d do and we are hoping for even better numbers in 2017.”
Widmeyer said the HIDTA designation has been extended for 12 months due to the success, and they will be given another $50,000 to continue overtime road patrols. In addition to the contraband seized at a traffic stop, Widmeyer said the information also leads to arrests down the line with the help of other agencies.
The troopers attribute a large portion of the success to the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal (BCI) Investigations out of the Martinsburg office.
“These traffic stops, they lead to search warrants which leads to additional drugs and issues,” Widmeyer said. “We couldn’t have been as successfull as we have without BCI guys. They’re very significant in our drug work and they do an outsanding job in the Panhandle. Without them we couldn’t do our jobs.”
So far, the troopers say they’ve seized 547 grams of heroin, 1,082 grams of cocaine, 52 pounds of marijuana and 111 grams of crack cocaine as a result of traffic stops and follow-up search warrants.
Troopers also seized an additional 160 marijuana plants, 20,637 grams of marijuana and illegal prescription narcotics. Approximate street value of drugs seized is estimated at $1.2 million, according to a press release.
“(Drugs were) our focus and that’s what they looked for,” Widmeyer said. “If we get a gram of heroin out of a car, in our minds, we could’ve just saved a life.”
The increased funding for troopers in the Eastern Panhandle allowed them to conduct patrols in HIDTA designated areas, while “off-duty” and separate from their normal, regular work schedule. Focus was placed on drug traffickers delivering narcotics originating out-of-state, the release said.
During the first seven months of the initial HIDTA program, troopers conducted 1,289 traffic stops on vehicles on roadways that had been identified to be major drug trafficking means from the Washington-Baltimore area into the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, West Virginia State Police reported.
As a result of the increase of traffic stops, a total of 214 felony arrests were made and 190 of those arrests were for drug related crimes, according to the West Virginia State Police. Troopers also say they arrested 15 individuals as being fugitives from justice and seized six firearms.
Troopers also seized $220,461 in property — including but not limited to, vehicles, electronic equipment, cell phones, firearms, etc. — and more than $69,000 cash related to the distribution of illegal narcotics in the Eastern Panhandle.
The six troopers were assisted significantly by Members of the West Virginia State Police BCI.
Assigned to the Specialized Unit were, Sergeant D. S. See (Team Leader), Corporal D. G. Lahman, Corporal N. K. Campbell, Trooper First Class P. L. North, Senior Trooper D. W. Satterfield and Senior Trooper D. R. Walker.
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