By Joe Beck
Law enforcement officers from the Front Royal police and Warren County Sheriff's Office arrested 48 people as part of a massive drug enforcement operation throughout the Northern Shenandoah Valley on Thursday.
The number of alleged violations in Warren County, most of them felonies, amounted to more than half the total of the 94 arrests in Operation Valley Venue, a campaign that involved 17 agencies or organizations. The other jurisdictions targeted in the operation were Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah and Page counties and all towns and cities within those areas.
Special Agent Jay Perry of the Virginia State Police called the operation "highly successful" for the number of arrests and drug seizures it produced and for "making a statement" to drug sellers and users.
Perry said Monday the high number of arrests in Warren County stemmed from indictments issued against many detainees from previous drug investigations.
Perry described the operation as the first of its kind in the number of law enforcement agencies involved, geographic sweep and law enforcement agencies involved. He said it was not mounted in response to any special problems pertaining to drug use in the region.
"There was no real timing involved," he said. "It was just an operation we had planned, and it was a good time to get it in before the Apple Blossom Festival starts when Winchester and Shenandoah County officials are taxed already."
The Warren County part of the operation included 14 searches of residents and a visit to what authorities called "a residence of interest." Authorities seized heroin, cocaine, marijuana and illegal prescription drug medications with a total value of $2,100.
Authorities reported the total value of drugs seized in all jurisdictions was $145,612, most of it coming from 40 marijuana plants listed at $140,000.
Perry said most of the arrests were made without incident, although there were two foot chases in Winchester and one man in Shenandoah County escaped and remains at large.
"There were no standoffs or anything like that," Perry said. "Everything went pretty smooth."
The investigation included the seizure of one pipe bomb during a traffic stop in Page County.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org