By Alex Bridges
Multiple law-enforcement agencies arrested dozens of people across the valley Thursday in an operation targeting illegal drugs.
Virginia state police led "Operation Valley Venue" in Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren. The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force had teams in different parts of the valley where agents, joined by other authorities, made arrests and seized suspected drugs and money.
Spokespeople for two of the local law enforcement agencies involved in the operation gave some details on arrests and charges but referred other questions to the state police. A spokeswoman for the state police referred media to the participating sheriff's offices.
Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office executed search warrants and arrested six people on various charges as part of the operation, Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office said Friday. Authorities executed search warrants at two homes on Lakeview Drive in Woodstock.
Authorities arrested Dena Marie Cook, 23, at 209 Lakeview Drive, on one count each of child endangerment and possession of a controlled substance, Proctor said. Officers found suspected heroin and drug paraphernalia at the residence, Proctor said.
"Most recently we had received information from citizens and other sources of information that criminal activity, mainly reported as drug activity ... was occurring in this residence or in the area," Proctor said. "It was basically several reports in the last month or so."
Officers also executed a search warrant at 247 Lakeview Drive after the drug task force had made several controlled purchases for prescription drugs at the residence, according to Proctor.
Officers charged Tiffany Nicole Helsley, 23, and Elizabeth Rebecca Dinges, 18, and Lamar Reuben Ragland, 26, of 247 Lakeview Drive, as well as Hunter Cole Yerby, 18, of 185 Natures Way, Strasburg, and Treshawn Daluante Robinson, 19, of 199 Hottle Road, Woodstock, with one count each of child endangerment, according to information provided by Proctor.
Officers recovered drug paraphernalia from the home at 247 Lakeview Drive, Proctor said. Other charges related to the execution of the search warrants and to the ongoing investigation are pending, Proctor said.
At both locations, authorities came in contact with multiple children ages 4 or younger that prompted the child endangerment charges, Proctor said. Workers from the Department of Social Services were on the scene at both residences to take care of the children, according to Proctor.
Officers took the arrested individuals into custody without incident and transported them to the Shenandoah County Jail, Proctor said. Cook was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond. The remaining five suspects were held without bond at the jail overnight and had appearances in Shenandoah County General District Court scheduled for Friday.
Shenandoah County authorities have other illegal drug charges pending related to visits by probation and parole officers also involved in the operation, Proctor added. The county agency's involvement included not only officers assigned to the task force but also patrol deputies, he noted. The sheriff's office also received assistance from several of the town police departments, he said. The county also had help from a conservation officer with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Information from Warren County was not available Friday. A task force summary provided to the Daily indicated that Warren County and Front Royal netted the most felony charges in the operation.
The summary also showed that the task force recovered heroin, cocaine, marijuana plants, prescription medication and other drugs all valued at more than $145,000. Agents also seized a gun silencer, some ammunition and a pipe bomb.
In the Winchester-Frederick County area, federal, state and local law enforcement agents netted six suspects on various charges. Lauren Cummings, a spokeswoman for the Winchester Police Department, said Friday the agency expects to arrest more people and seek additional charges related to the investigation.
The release states the operation is the first of its kind conducted in the Northern Shenandoah Valley region.
"They have done it in other parts of the state and they thought it would be a great operation to bring to the Northern Shenandoah Valley," Cummings said.
As Cummings explained in the press release, the eight-hour operation targeted individuals responsible for distributing, manufacturing and transporting illegal narcotics.
- Jeremy Simpson, of the 200 block of Millwood Avenue, Winchester, for a probation violation
- Matthew Hoenig, of the 500 block of North Kent Street, Winchester, for possession of narcotics and probation violation
- Terry Johnson, of the 100 block of Lamden Avenue, Winchester, for providing false information to a law enforcement officer
- Carroll Smith, of the 200 block of Ash Hollow Drive, in Frederick County, for possession of marijuana
- Bradley Martin, of the 1300 block of Pitcock Lane, in Frederick County, for a probation violation
- Kathleen Stickley, of the 200 block of Cougar Trail, in Frederick County, for possession of marijuana
Authorities in Frederick County and Winchester found heroin, crack and powder cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs in their searches of homes during the operation. Agents had encounters with four known gang members. Authorities recovered more than $900 in cash from a home in the 100 block of Lamden Avenue, according to the release. The Winchester Department of Zoning and Inspections cited five homes with building code violations and deemed one residence on Bellview Avenue as uninhabitable.
During the operation, the North End Team covered Winchester and Frederick County. Agents and probation officers searched 21 residences. The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, the Winchester Police Department, the Virginia State Police, the Probation and Parole office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted the task force. Agents also visited 15 residences of interest in the Frederick County-Winchester area.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org