WOODSTOCK – A break-in at a Shenandoah County gun store led authorities to ring of accused drug dealers now facing federal charges.

Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy C. Carter recently disclosed that his agency’s investigation into the burglary of a Toms Brook firearms dealership and the theft of guns from the store in 2017 tipped the department off to what led law enforcement to charge more than a dozen people with drug distribution.

Maj. Scott Proctor, of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office, explained Monday that the Toms Brook gun store burglary reported on Sept. 16, 2017 remains under investigation and the agency has made no arrests.

Carter spoke about his agency’s role in the drug distribution investigation at a media conference held last week in Woodstock by the U.S. attorney for Virginia’s Western District. U.S. District Attorney Thomas Cullen announced Thursday the indictment of 18 people on federal drug and firearms charges and the arrest of a 19th defendant arrested during the investigation.

Carter credited Assistant U.S. District Attorney Grayson Hoffman for “putting pieces of this puzzle together” as agencies moved forward with the investigation.

“Maybe you don’t know this but it began last year as we were investigating a gun larceny break-in in Shenandoah County and that culminated in the seizure of about 120 grams of fentanyl-laced heroin and two firearms,” Carter said. “There were several arrests made ... but that investigation moved this into the realm of federal indictments of several additional, local drug traffickers and the seizure of firearms and narcotics, primarily heroin and methamphetamine.”

Later on Thursday afternoon, Carter  explained the connection between the local break-in case and the federal investigation.

“No one in the drug case was connected to the gun store breaking and entering,” Carter states in an email. “However, as with many times, information that we received along with other information regarding drug trafficking during the same time frame led us to suspects, which in turn became the Federal operation.

“It happens that one case and the interviews or information gained from that investigation leads to another case,” Carter adds.

The Sheriff’s Office had not charged anyone with crimes related to the gun store break-in as of Thursday, Carter said in another email. The burglary remains under investigation, Carter said.

Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com