Valley task force seizes more than $42,000 worth illegal drugs

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 10:24 PM EDT
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LURAY, Va. (WHSV) - Dozens of illegal narcotics distributors and manufacturers were arrested late last week as part of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force’s 10th annual Operation Valley Venue.

The three-day operation took place from Oct. 26 - Oct. 28 and stretched across the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.

The task force is comprised of law enforcement officers from the Clarke, Frederick, Page, and Shenandoah County sheriff’s offices and the Front Royal, Luray, Strasburg, and Winchester police departments as well as Virginia State Police.

During the operation, the task force seized more than $42,000 worth of illegal drugs and made 58 felony arrests.

“This incorporates more officers, more patrol officers, and a larger scale of trying to interdict drugs through transportation means and the distribution side of it,” said Luray Police Chief Bow Cook.

The drugs seized included: 237 grams of methamphetamine valued at $23,700, 35 grams of heroin valued at $3,500, 20 capsules of heroin valued at $2,000, 7 grams of fentanyl valued at $700, 80 pressed fentanyl pills valued at $3,200, 35 grams of cocaine valued at $3,450, 51 grams of crack cocaine valued at $5,100, and 60 grams of marijuana valued at $450.

Agents also seized two firearms and $1,326 in cash. Chief Bow Cook said one thing that is troubling is that many of those arrested were repeat offenders.

“Typically, we’re dealing with repeat offenders, people that we’ve gotten sometimes several times before prior to and they’re back right on the street in no time dealing drugs,” said Cook. “It becomes fairly frustrating to law enforcement because we could make a drug arrest and within a short period of time they’re back on the street.”

Cook said the primary reason for this is a change to the case law that has lowered the penalties for first and second-time drug offenders. He said that probation checks have also not been able to be enforced as strictly because of understaffing in parole departments that have parole officers stretched too thin.

“I think on the law enforcement side of it we are making progress but in the court system there seems to be more avenues to be put back out on the street for probation and it feels like the person on probation has more opportunity to get right back into the game again if they choose not to go the direction the court orders them to,” Cook said.