An Edinburg man arrested on a felony drug possession charge in Luray Tuesday has suspected ties to a multi-state methamphetamine ring.
Bryan Lee Estep, 44, of 146 Hideaway Farms Road, was arrested on a felony count of possession of over 10 grams of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. Police said this is part of an investigation by multiple agencies in several states, including the Drug Enforcement Administrationat.
Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Poe said over the phone that a subsequent search of Estep’s Edinburg home yielded “several pounds” of methamphetamine inside a cooler.
He did not reveal the exact amount of methamphetamine found, but a search warrant affidavit states that Estep told Luray police there were seven pounds of methamphetamine in a cooler on his living room floor.
D.E.A. officers valued the amount of methamphetamine seized at $500,000, Poe said.
Luray Police Chief C.S. Bow Cook said over the phone the D.E.A. is investigating because it could become a federal case due to the involvement of a “large supplier of many jurisdictions.”
“We’re hoping it will wind up a federal case,” Poe said.
Poe noted that the case involves other states and additional arrests in multiple jurisdictions are likely. He added that police do not know how many people are involved in the ring.
Cook said the chain of events began at 5:58 a.m. Tuesday when Luray officers conducted a traffic stop.
A Luray Police Department news release states that a dog indicated the presence of narcotics during the traffic stop and two grams of methamphetamine were seized.
The release states that this led to a joint investigation between the Page County Sheriff’s Office and Luray Police Department that resulted in the seizure of about 70 grams of methamphetamine, two grams of cocaine and the impoundment of a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro.
Cook said Estep was arrested following the traffic stop.
He added that there was “a lot that transpired between the traffic stop and arrest that I can’t tell you.”
The release states that following the arrest, the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office and Luray Police Department executed a search warrant at Estep’s house.
According to the warrant, the search also yielded 20 items that included money, a handgun, two money counters, a cell phone, a laptop, scales, pills, packaging material and a cooler.
Poe said he believes several drug task forces in the state have been aware that Estep was involved in “suspicious activity.” He declined to say how long the investigation has been ongoing because it is premature to go into depth with details.
He added that police do not know “what level of the hierarchy of the organization he is…we’re not saying because we don’t want to, we don’t know.”
No charges had been filed in Shenandoah County as of Friday afternoon.
Agencies involved in Estep’s arrest were the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, Strasburg Police Department, Luray Police Department, Virginia State Police, Page County Sheriff’s Office and the D.E.A.
Estep is being held at the Page County Jail and is due to appear in Page County General District Court on Feb. 21.