Praise Flows for High Profile Huntington (and beyond) Drug Dealers Bust

Updated 21 weeks ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Praise Flows for High Profile Huntington (and beyond) Drug Dealers Bust

Social media has been praising members of the Huntington Police Department for the execution of the large drug raid that targeted dealers and supplies Tuesday, April 17. Many of the comments compliment interim police chief Hank Dial, asking that he be appointed Chief.
 

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart told a news conference this is the first of several drug organization networks that will be targeted.

"We're going to choke the supply as much as possible," he said.

He described Tuesday's target as the Peterson family -- a supplier or suppliers --- which had components in Detroit and Huntington.

"They don’t operate in isolation,” Stuart said. “I can tell you they’re not the Brady Bunch. And they’re not ‘All in the Family.’ These are folks who brought misery and chaos to our city,”referring to the 2017 spike in Huntington murders and a 26% increase in aggravated assault. 

Stuart said the raids are "potential game changers" for Southern West Virginia. "Huntington is a safer cit today , but we continue to be vigilant."

WV Governor Jim Justice issued the following statement:

I commend our West Virginia Army National Guard and West Virginia State Police for their participation and brave efforts in the major drug raid in Huntington today. Their participation in the raid is part of my ongoing initiative to use our state assets in every possible way to combat the opioid crisis.

 

My thanks also go out to the FBI, ATF, United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of WV, Huntington Police, Marshall University Police, and all other agencies that completed this drug raid safely and quickly. The people of West Virginia remain fully supportive of your efforts to end this terrible crisis and make our state safer.​

Rep. Evan Jenkins stated in a release:

 

“For far too long, drug traffickers have pushed their deadly poison on Huntington and West Virginia with devastating consequences. This takedown broke up a drug trafficking ring, took countless deadly doses off our streets, and undoubtedly saved lives.

“U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart even said they recovered enough fentanyl to kill quarter of a million people – what devastation those drugs would have unleashed in Huntington and our state had they been sold on our streets.

“The money, resources and time investing in fighting the drug crisis at the local, state and national level are paying off, as we saw today. I commend everyone involved in this takedown and thank them for their work to take back the city of Huntington.”

 

 The Department of Justice news release follows:

United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced today a major takedown of drug traffickers and related drug networks recently indicted by a federal grand jury in Huntington, as well as other narcotics, violent crime and firearm related targets.  Joining United States Attorney Stuart in the announcement were Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Chris Evans, Federal Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Nick Boshears, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special  Agent in Charge (SAC) Stuart Lowrey, Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Dave Abbate, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Huntington Interim Police Chief Hank Dial, West Virginia State Police Captain Mike LaFauci, West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General James Hoyer, Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney Sean “Corky” Hammers, U.S. Marshal Michael Baylous, Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle, Wayne County Sheriff Rick Thompson, Marshall University Police Chief Jim Terry and AHIDTA State Director Kenny Burner.

In response to a growing opiate epidemic and violent crime in southern West Virginia, United States Attorney Stuart announced the formation of Project Huntington on March 15th alongside federal, state and local law enforcement partners.  Today, in a takedown of federal and state targets, nearly 100 defendants have been targeted for arrest including the execution of Operation Saigon Sunset and related search warrants in Huntington, WV.  It is believed that today’s actions will result in the dismantling of the Peterson Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO), a major multi-state heroin and fentanyl distribution network.  In addition to the dismantling of the Peterson DTO, federal, state and local law enforcement are executing arrests for related violent elements including narcotics and firearms targets. 

Today’s actions break down as follows:
 

  • At least 15 individuals involved in the Peterson DTO have been charged in a federal indictment in the Southern District of West Virginia with conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl;
  • 15 individuals involved in the Peterson DTO were indicted yesterday in Cabell County Circuit Court on state charges;
  • Additional members of the Peterson DTO will be arrested and charged in Detroit;
  • 13 individuals involved in narcotics and/or firearms that have been charged in federal indictments in the Southern District of West Virginia; and
  • At least 48 individuals are targeted for arrest on various narcotics, violent crime, and firearms related charges at the federal or state level as determined by the circumstances of each matter.


As an indication of the scale of the operation, over 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officers took part in today’s take-down effort.  The West Virginia National Guard also provided a number of personnel in a support function to the operation. 

Today’s actions would not have been possible without the seamless collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.  The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Violent Crime and Drug Task Force West, with assistance from the Michigan State Police and the Ohio Highway Patrol.   

 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia and the Eastern District of Michigan, as well as the Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, worked together hand-in-hand to remove these dangerous drug traffickers from the streets of Huntington and Detroit.

In conjunction with the arrest and search warrants executed in Huntington today, it is anticipated federal authorities in Detroit will soon be executing additional arrest warrants and search warrants.  Additional charges will be brought against individuals in the Eastern District of Michigan.  

“Our great country has never seen drug deaths like we’re seeing today,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Under President Trump’s strong leadership, the Department of Justice has taken historic new actions to put drug traffickers in jail and keep dangerous drugs out of the wrong hands.  I want to thank all of our partners at DEA, FBI, ATF, the Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, as well as our fabulous partners at the state and local levels for their hard work.  Today’s charges against at least 90 defendants will help make the people of West Virginia and Michigan safer from the threat of dangerous drugs—and they bring us one step closer to ending the opioid epidemic.” 

“Today’s actions have removed from our streets enough fentanyl to kill more than 250,000 people and massive amounts of other drugs that would have wreaked havoc and misery on our good citizens.  Today is a turning point for the City of Huntington and in the war against the opiate nightmare,” said US Attorney Stuart. “Best yet, today’s actions have resulted in the destruction of a supply network, the supplier of suppliers of illicit drugs.  The peddlers of poisons like heroin and fentanyl are in the crosshairs of this Administration and law enforcement.  We still have work to do but the days of havoc, chaos and misery caused by the peddlers of illicit poisons are soon to be over.”  

“Today, on tax day, the citizens of Huntington and the surrounding area got their money’s worth, said Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.  “Thanks to the coordination of our federal, state and local law enforcement agencies our city is safer.  I thank United States Attorney Mike Stuart and Major General Jim Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard for their steadfast support.  The men and women of every law enforcement agency are owed a monumental debt of gratitude for placing their lives in harm’s way to make our families safe.”

The investigation revealed that the Peterson DTO had been operating in Huntington for nearly 15 years, trafficking large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine from Detroit to be sold in Huntington in street-level gram quantities.  In August 2017, investigators with the Violent Crime and Drug Task Force West (“VCDTFW”) executed a search warrant at Manget Peterson’s residence and an associated hotel room, where Manget Peterson’s workers were distributing heroin.  These searches resulted in the seizure of two handguns, over seventy half gram baggies of heroin ready for distribution, and other evidence of drug trafficking.  Manget Peterson’s brother, Willie Peterson, was identified as the leader and drug supplier of the organization.  Multiple sources advised that the Peterson DTO distributed kilogram quantities of heroin in Huntington, West Virginia, on nearly a weekly basis, using a network of re-distributors. 

Law enforcement learned that the DEA in Detroit had opened an investigation into Willie Peterson, after a search of his residence in July 2017 resulted in the seizure of over 360 grams of fentanyl.  The DEA’s investigations in West Virginia and in Detroit have resulted in investigators seizing additional drug loads and to the identification of two of Willie Peterson’s drug suppliers in Detroit, Michigan.  As of April 3, 2018, law enforcement has seized approximately 760 grams of suspected heroin, 450 grams of suspected fentanyl, and 167 grams of suspected cocaine.  The fentanyl seized prior to today’s actions could have resulted in the death of more than 250,000 people. 

This morning, Manget Peterson was apprehended in Huntington and his brother, Willie Peterson, was apprehended in Detroit.  Malcolm Simmons was also arrested in Detroit this morning.

According to Chris Evans, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Louisville Division Office, “Today’s round-up sends a clear message to the people of Huntington and all of West Virginia:  drug traffickers who come here to destroy our communities will be aggressively pursued by DEA, in conjunction with West Virginia’s federal, state and local law enforcement components.”

“ATF is committed to working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office to reduce violent crime in Huntington,” said Stuart Lowrey, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in West Virginia and Kentucky.  “Together we will identify and investigate armed violent offenders and their illicit sources of guns.  Traffickers and triggerpullers – beware.”

“We are building a collaborative approach here in Huntington,” said Interim Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial.  “Day in and day out we go after criminals who are bringing these drugs into our community and work to get people into much needed treatment.  We greatly appreciate our state and federal partnering agencies bringing their powerful resources to our community.  There is one thing the good people of Huntington and the bad people in Huntington have in common, they both deserve today.” ​ 

In the Southern District of West Virginia, 15 individuals have been charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl.  The investigation is ongoing and could result in additional federal and state charges in the future.

Please Note:  An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

Sen. Joe Manchin issued the following statement:

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement about the drug raids conducted by the Department of Justice and Huntington Police in Huntington, WV today.

 

“This morning the Department of Justice and Huntington Police conducted a series of drug raids in Huntington. These raids send a strong message to those who come to West Virginia with the intent of poisoning our people. Bringing an end to the opioid epidemic will require a multi-pronged approach and the work of federal, state and local officials and today’s raids are the work of that collaboration. I applaud U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Chris Evans, Federal Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Nick Boshears, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special  Agent in Charge (SAC) Stuart Lowrey, Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Dave Abbate, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, Huntington Interim Police Chief Hank Dial, West Virginia State Police Captain Mike LaFauci, West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General James Hoyer, Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney Sean “Corky” Hammers, U.S. Marshal Michael Baylous, Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle, Wayne County Sheriff Rick Thompson, Marshall University Police Chief Jim Terry and AHIDTA State Director Kenny Burner and the 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officers who worked together to carry out today’s raids. I join the entire state of West Virginia in thanking these brave men and women for their willingness to carry out these dangerous raids in an effort to make our communities and state safer.”

 

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