CHARLESTON — The American Governors’ Border Strike Force, signed by Gov. Jim Justice and 25 other states on April 19, successfully seized 6 pounds of methamphetamine, 1.06 ounces of heroin, 23.99 pounds of marijuana, 3.52 ounces of cocaine, and 6.4 ounces of fentanyl traveling on West Virginia highways in the span of one week. The amount of fentanyl seized nationwide as a result of this operation would be enough to provide a lethal dose to 15,799,075 people.
“I am just really proud of the work that all these agencies have done to make sure that West Virginia is a safer place for all of us,” Justice said. “Given how successful the first operation was, I am excited to see how many of these traffickers get stopped in their tracks here in West Virginia. I can promise you, we will continue to work hard to make sure we make a dent in their business.”
Although overdose deaths in West Virginia are decreasing slightly according to a new report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Governor Justice and the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security recognize that progress should not slow efforts to seek out and arrest those individuals and/or organizations engaged in the trafficking of illicit drugs into or through our state.
“The success of this operation was due to the hard work and determination of law enforcement agencies all across our state,” Jack Luikart, director of the West Virginia Fusion Center and West Virginia Strike Force representative, said. “Traffickers need to know that West Virginia has drawn a line in the sand. We have had enough of our citizens dying and becoming addicted, and we will band together to make a real impact on the drug trade.”
There are 22 agencies that participated in the operation:
- Metro Drug Enforcement Network Team
- Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department
- Wheeling Police Department
- Three Rivers Drug Task Force
- Cabell County Sheriff Department
- Wood County Sheriff’s Department
- Putnam County Sheriff’s Department
- Logan County Sheriff’s Department
- Hurricane Police Department
- Mon/Metro Task Force
- U.S. 119 Drug Task Force
- Charleston Police Department
- Ravenswood Police Department
- Morgantown Police Department
- Greater Harrison County Drug Task Force
- Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department ACE TEAM
- Ohio Valley Drug Task Force
- Parkersburg Police Department
- Vienna Police
- Williamstown Police Department
- West Virginia Fusion Center
- West Virginia National Guard Counter Drug
“I am very proud of each and every agency that had involvement in this very important operation,” Rob Cunningham, deputy cabinet secretary of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security, said. “Given my position, I am especially proud of the Fusion Center’s Narcotics Intelligence Unit and all our analysts and leadership, as they played a crucial role in the success of this operation.”
During the 2020 State of The State address, Justice said, “Tonight I am ordering Secretary Jeff Sandy to form a new unit called a Narcotics Intelligence Unit — a new unit at the Fusion Center — it will be a strike force. I will promise you, promise you that if you are kind enough to give us that opportunity — and I want to say this as sincerely and as forcefully as a human being could ever say it — I want to look right in the camera and tell anybody, anybody that is trying to come into our state with drugs: We are going to bust your ass. That’s all there is to it.”
In keeping with Justice’s vision, The West Virginia Fusion Center has established a 21st century intelligence unit whose mission is to aid West Virginia drug task forces and state and federal law enforcement agencies by identifying Drug Trafficking Organizations and lone actors who are targeting the State of West Virginia for illicit drug distribution.
For this operation, the West Virginia Fusion Center (WVFC) identified the most prominent trafficking travel routes within our state using arrest and seizure data collected over the last 18 months. WVFC analyst teams received, analyzed, and disseminated all relevant information to participating agencies and states in real-time, which contributed to the efficiency and practicality of the Strike Force collaboration.
The American Governors’ Border Strike Force will continue in its mission to interfere with drug trafficking in the United States, and West Virginia will continue to add to and benefit from this