West Virginia Law Enforcement Agencies Create New Team to Fight Drug Trafficking

officer-on-duty-542938-m.jpgWest Virginia law enforcement officials have formed a new team intended to stop the flow of illegal drugs into Harrison County.

The team will focus on patrolling highways, state routes, airports, bus terminals, hotels and motels, and parcel and package delivery. Its members will be drawn from both federal and state agencies, including the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District, the West Virginia State Police, the Clarksburg Police Department, and the Bridgeport Police Department.

In addition, the team will focus its efforts on stopping criminal organizations that operate within West Virginia. This includes not only vehicle inspection, but also investigating situations like kidnappings, Amber Alerts, interstate theft, bank robberies, detection and recovery of firearms, immigration violations and human trafficking, and apprehension of fugitives.

The team is not the first of its kind in West Virginia: another unit was formed in the Northern Panhandle in 2011, which also drew from federal, state, and local agencies. The Northern Panhandle team has operated successfully so far, making 235 arrests, including 98 for felonies. That team also seized more than 1,600 dosage units of prescription medications last year, which included painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. They also seized numerous amounts of illegal drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, as well as stolen property and firearms. Moreover, the team recovered approximately $40,000 in proceeds from drug trafficking.

The Northern Panhandle team’s success bodes well for the new team, and already since late 2013, the new team has made more than 50 arrests, with half being on drug-related charges. The team has also seized large quantities of prescription drug medications intended for illegal sales, more than half a kilogram of marijuana, large amounts of methamphetamine and heroin, currency in the amount of $6,960, and two firearms. The new team hopes to increase the number of officers in 2014.

Since drug abuse is a serious problem in this state, it is good to see government officials working to stem the illegal activity that leads to the problem. At the same time, it is important that the law enforcement agents involved do not ignore suspects’ Constitutional rights when they search for illegal items. Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, police officers generally cannot enter the home to search without a search warrant. They also cannot arrest someone outside of the home unless they have probable cause — or a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances strong enough to justify a reasonable person’s belief that certain facts are probably true. If you are in a car, they generally cannot pull it over unless they have reasonable suspicion, which is less than probable cause, but still requires more than “an inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or ‘hunch.'” If you have been arrested on the suspicion of committing a crime, contact a West Virginia criminal defense attorney today to defend your rights.

The Wolfe Law Firm has been providing legal services for nearly 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm provides services in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and mediation. If you are looking for an experienced West Virginia attorney, contact us today.

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