By Joe Beck
Law enforcement officials swept through the Northern Shenandoah Valley on Tuesday in a crackdown on suspected drug offenders that produced 40 arrests and led to the seizure of almost $8,000 in illegal narcotics and an illegal handgun.
The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force led the operation, dubbed Operation Valley Venue II. The raid came almost a year to the day after the first Operation Valley Venue, which also focused on alleged drug offenses.
Special agent Jay Perry of the Virginia State Police said the arrests were made throughout the five county area of Frederick, Warren, Shenandoah, Page and Clarke counties and involved law enforcement from those counties and the towns of Winchester, Front Royal, Mount Jackson, Strasburg, New Market and Woodstock. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Virginia Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole also participated.
"It's something we're going to try to do a little more often," Perry said of the sweep. "It's something we'd like to do once a year or every six months. We're trying to hit high crime areas and do the best we can to arrest some of these folks."
Defendants from Warren and Frederick counties were among those arrested. No information was available Thursday afternoon on those from Shenandoah County. The list of 23 drug charges involved heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone and illegal prescription drugs.
Those arrested from Warren County include Janell Tonia Burke, 24, probation violation; Tori E. Butler, 26, probation violation; Michael Childress, 23, probation violation; Timothy Wayne Jones, 34, probation violation; Brian Schmidt, 23, probation violation; Eric David Jones, 24, three counts of distribution of cocaine and manufacturing a controlled substance; and Ashlee Nicole Osborne, 23, one count of distributing cocaine and one count of manufacturing a controlled substance.
Defendants from Winchester and the charges filed against them include: Joseph Dorsey, 38, distribution of crack cocaine; Jeffrey Morgan, 46, distribution of crack cocaine; William Oliver, 27, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine; Darrin Edwards, 37, possession of marijuana; and Sergio Santiago-Rios, 38, possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
Those arrested from elsewhere in Frederick County include: Ashley Diaz, 26, wanted on an arrest warrant; Eric Stull, 29, distribution of marijuana; Christopher Theriot, 19, of Stephenson, distribution of heroin; and Cynthia Reid Bennett, 43, of Cross Junction, wanted on a felony larceny warrant from Leesburg.
Perry, who is coordinator of the drug and gang task force, said law enforcement officials conducted the majority of the arrests at residences, although a few were made at hotels and in parking lots.
"Shenandoah County had quite a few arrest warrants we tried to serve, and those turned into narcotics violations and weapons violations," Perry said.
Perry said all of the arrests were made without trouble.
"We had no use of force," Perry said. "Everything was conducted very professionally."
The value of the drugs was pegged at $7,921, much less than the $145,612 cited after the first Operation Valley Venue in late April 2013. The drugs seized in last year's raid included 40 marijuana plants valued at $140,000. Drugs other than marijuana were valued at $2,100 in the 2013 raid.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org