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Northern W.Va. gets second drug interdiction team

From Staff Reports

The Exponent Telegram

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — Law enforcement officials announced the formation of a new interdiction team that will patrol the roads of Harrison County in order to slow the flow of illegal drugs into the region.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, Captain James Merrill of the West Virginia State Police, and Chief John Walker of the Bridgeport Police Department unveiled the Mountaineer Highway Interdiction Team on Thursday. They also provided details regarding successful patrols by the unit that have already taken place.

According to Ihlenfeld, the team — also known as MHIT South — will have the primary purpose of enhancing interdiction operations in order to slow the flow of illegal drugs into and through North Central West Virginia. The team’s major focus will be on highways and state routes but it will also concentrate on airports, bus terminals, hotels, motels, and parcel and package interdiction. The member agencies are the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the West Virginia State Police, the Bridgeport Police Department and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District.

Besides enhancing regional highway interdiction operations, MHIT South will have the added benefit of disrupting criminal organizations operating within West Virginia and of preserving citizen safety on West Virginia highways through effective traffic and commercial vehicle enforcement. It will also assist in investigating kidnappings, bank robberies, Amber Alerts and interstate theft; the detection and recovery of firearms; human trafficking and immigration violations; and fugitive apprehension.

MHIT South will support the Greater Harrison County Drug Task Force and other law enforcement agencies in the region and be available to act upon intelligence related to drug trafficking.

The unit is the second of its kind in West Virginia, with the first MHIT unit having been formed in the Northern Panhandle in 2011…

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