Meth seizures surge in Shenandoah County

Tim Carter

The amount of methamphetamine seized in Shenandoah County soared in 2015 as activities associated with the drug shifted away from trafficking to production in small, mobile laboratories.

The recently released Sheriff’s Office annual report shows that members of the agency assigned to the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force seized 233 grams of methamphetamine, many times more than the seven grams recorded in 2014.

Methamphetamine has long plagued the county, first when drug offenders were detected moving it around the area and conducting sales transactions. Sheriff Timothy C. Carter said the number of people now being charged with manufacturing the drug is on the rise.

“Now what we’re seeing is the small two- or three-person or one-person lab,” Carter said.

Carter said the threat of heroin should not be underestimated, although the 60 grams seized in 2015 were far less than for methamphetamine. Six people died from heroin overdoses in Shenandoah County last year, a sharp increase over the two deaths recorded in 2014.

“I think our numbers, when you look at the size of our population, they’re still high,” Carter said of heroin overdoses. “Regionally, there may have been some progress with less deaths, less injuries, but from this county’s standpoint, it’s still high.”

The annual report also showed more than 87 dosage units of prescription drugs and 93 dosage units of synthetic drugs were seized in 2015.

The report stated that larcenies (64), sexual assaults (63) and burglaries (33) were the crimes that were most commonly examined by the Sheriff’s Office criminal investigation division in 2015. The investigation team also participated in three cases led by the FBI, two by the New York City Police Department and three by Philadelphia police.

The criminal investigations division was assigned a total of 287 cases in 2015.

Edinburg abolished its police department last year and turned to the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services. The annual report states that two full-time deputies assigned to patrol the town responded to 4,096 calls for service, a number that represents mostly non-emergency calls, Carter said.

“I think it has gone very well,” Carter said of Edinburg’s transition to a different law enforcement agency. “Keep in mind most of those calls are property check and business check-related.”

Carter also praised Mayor Daniel J. Harshman and other officials for welcoming the Sheriff’s Office patrols that began on July 1.

“We brief the town council every month,” Carter said. “They’ve been very receptive. They’ve been very helpful.”

Carter devoted part of the annual report to lamenting the lack of county funding for deputy pay, which he said contributes to pay disparities between Shenandoah County and other jurisdictions. Carter said the disparity stems from differences in the way the county pays deputies and other county employees.

“We’ve been trying to get them to look at the whole pay disparity issue for seven years,” Carter said of the Board of Supervisors, adding that he was going to “continue educating” the board and public about the need for better deputy pay.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com