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30 charged in SW Virginia drug roundup



APPALACHIA — Wise County authorities Thursday conduced a mass arrest of suspects indicted in a 15-month drug operation named “Operation Appalachian Action.”

According to Wise County Commonwealth Attorney Chuck Slemp, a multi-jurisdictional grand jury recently returned 35 indictments against the 30 suspects for nearly 40 drug-related crimes.

Slump said the operation focused on the areas of Appalachia and Big Stone Gap, so none of the suspects is from Pulaski or surrounding counties or cities.

During the investigation, Slemp says, Wise County Sheriff’s Department and Southwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force “dedicated countless hours … to eradicate drug related crime in … one of the most difficult places to infiltrate.”

He said the focus of the operation was “to provide hope for citizens of Appalachia and Big Stone Gap, ensure justice for drug offenders, and fight for the safety of this wonderful community by taking dangerous illegal drugs off the street.

“Now, the prosecutors at my office will turn to the important task of prosecuting these cases to ensure that justice is served.”

Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes said his department will continue to work with the community “to keep drugs off the streets.”

Assistant Sheriff Grant Kilgore noted many of the offenses charged in the roundup involve the drug methamphetamine.

He added, “These substances are highly addictive and highly dangerous, with scary side effects and potential to change a user’s life instantly. We have seen a significant number of violent crimes being committed in this part of the community because of the volatility of methamphetamine.”

A little over half of the charges filed Thursday involved distribution of Schedule I/II drugs, including methamphetamine, synthetic drugs and highly addictive prescription drugs. Other charges involve the distribution of drugs near school properties.



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