Businessman arrested in one of largest drug busts in county history
By Joe Beck
Law enforcement officers arrested a Woodstock store owner at his business Friday and charged him with possession of illegal bath salts and synthetic marijuana with intent to distribute.
The arrest of Larry Franklin Walsh, 72, of 154 S. Commerce St., came at the conclusion of a six- to eight-month investigation that authorities called one of the largest drug busts in county history.
Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office said investigators executed a search warrant at 1 p.m. at Walsh's variety store B&L Discount House and seized more than $190,000 in cash, two handguns, one rifle and miscellaneous documents. Large amounts of bath salts and synthetic marijuana also were seized.
Proctor said Walsh was arrested at the store, commonly referred to in the area as "The Hot Spot." Proctor said Walsh also lived on the premises.
Sheriff Tim Carter called Walsh's arrest "significant not only in terms of the extensiveness of the operation this man was carrying on, but in the amount of product he moved and what we seized."
Proctor said Walsh was the subject of an undercover investigation involving confidential informants affiliated with the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office. Woodstock police developed important information linked to the case, and the Rockingham County drug task force also participated in the execution of the search warrant, Proctor said.
Proctor said the case involved at least three purchases of drugs made by confidential informants under the supervision of sheriff's office investigators.
"It is larger than most cases we've ever dealt with," Proctor said.
He said the drugs were being kept behind the counter of the store, which he described as a business that sells a wide variety of merchandise.
Proctor said Walsh was released on unsecured bond hours after his arrest on Friday. He is scheduled to appear in general district court at 9 a.m. Dec. 14.
Proctor said the investigation is continuing and additional charges may be filed.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on its website describes bath salts as synthetic stimulants that are available in several retail products sold over the Internet, in convenience stores and "head shops."
The DEA likens the effects of bath salts to amphetamines, cocaine and LSD.
"People who abuse (bath salts) have reported agitation, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, depression, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures and panic attacks," the DEA website states.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or email@example.com