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Operation nets arrests, drugs

Regional authorities seized drugs worth more than $100,000 and arrested suspects on dozens of charges last week.

The Northern Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, along with area law enforcement agencies, conducted its sixth annual Operation Valley Venue and netted 92 charges or summons that culminated Thursday. Agents also seized drugs, mostly methamphetamine, valued at more than $101,320, according to a media release from the task force.

The operation targeted individuals responsible for distributing, manufacturing and transporting illegal narcotics in five counties and their towns and cities, the release states.

The bulk of the methamphetamine seized in the operation came during a search of a Shenandoah County residence, Virginia state police Special Agent Joshua T. Price said by phone Monday. Agents took more than 6 pounds of methamphetamine from the residence, according to Price, who supervises the task force.

“That was the largest quantity, as far as the types of drugs, methamphetamine was the largest seizure that we had,” Price said. “The majority of … the methamphetamine seizures came out of one particular case that was in Shenandoah County, which was a search warrant … and it was just a large quantity of methamphetamine.”

The Task Force has noticed an increase in methamphetamine seizures, Price said later by email.
“However, opioid-related deaths and injuries are still a concern,” Price said. “So far in 2018, we have experienced 13 deaths and 97 injuries, compared to 29 deaths and 128 injuries at this time in 2017. This decrease is due largely in part to treatment, and prevention, as well as the availability of Naloxone. “

Specifically, participating agencies made 76 felony arrests, 11 misdemeanor arrests and two arrests for driving under the influence. Agencies issued three court summons and executed one search warrant. They conducted 63 probation searches and 34 interdiction traffic stops that included four vehicle searches.

Agents seized a total of:

  • 3,251 grams of methamphetamine valued at $100,380.
  • 20 grams of marijuana valued at $200.
  • 12 dosage units of prescription medications valued at $120.
  • 1 gram of cocaine valued at $100.
  • 3.2 grams of cocaine valued at $320.
  • 1 gram of heroin valued at $200.
  • one firearm.
  • $36,580 in cash.

The regional task force includes agents from sheriff’s offices in the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren; police departments in Front Royal, Strasburg and Winchester; and Virginia state police. The operation also included probation and parole workers, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Price provided a breakdown of the charges by team. The North End Team, composed of agents with the Frederick County and Clarke County Sheriff’s Offices, the Winchester Police Department and Virginia State Police, made nine arrests – six felonies and three misdemeanors. The team composed of agents from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Front Royal Police Department made 40 felony arrests. Agents with the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office and the Strasburg Police Department made 12 arrests – 11 felonies and one misdemeanor. The Page County Sheriff’s Office made 19 felony arrests, seven misdemeanors, two driving under the influence and issued three traffic summons.

Information from the task force showed agents served warrants for 35 narcotics violations; arrested two fugitives, made 42 traffic stops and 12 arrests on probation violations.

Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter issued a separate media release pertaining to his agency’s involvement in the operation with Strasburg and state police. The agencies visited seven homes and executed six probation searches. Agents arrested the following people:

  • Jeremy Wade Rhodes, of Edinburg, on a probation violation.
  • Christopher Doolan, of Mount Jackson, on seven counts of probation violations.
  • Sherrie Armel, of Woodstock, on indictments for distribution of a controlled substance, conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and selling drugs near a school.

Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron didn’t provide specific details about his agency’s involvement in the operation. McEathron noted in an email that it’s “always a successful operation year after year working with all the agencies involved with the Task Force.”

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