Luray, Virginia – The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force recently conducted its tenth annual Operation Valley Venue in the Winchester, Clarke, Frederick, Warren, Shenandoah and Page County, October 26-28, 2022.
The operation, which focuses on identifying and apprehending individuals for trafficking, manufacturing and distributing illegal narcotics, was a collaborative effort between the task force and deputies from the Clarke Sheriff’s Offices. , Frederick, Shenandoah, Page, and Winchester City, officers from the Winchester, Strasburg, Front Royal, Luray, and Broadway Police Departments, soldiers from the Virginia State Police Bureau of Headquarters Area of Operations 13 field officers and 11 probation and parole district officers.
The operation resulted in 58 felony arrests, six probation violations and four misdemeanor charges. In addition, 59 probation searches were conducted, six search warrants were obtained/executed and 31 interdiction traffic stops were carried out. According to a written statement from the task force, the total market value of narcotics seized in the operation was $42,100.00. Law enforcement seized 237 grams of methamphetamine (street value, $23,700.00), 35 grams of heroin (street value, $3,500.00), 20 capsules of heroin (street value, , $2,000.00), 7 grams of fentanyl (street value, $700.00), 80 fentanyl pills (resale value, $3,200.00), 35 grams of cocaine (resale value, 3 $450.00), 51 grams of crack (resale value, $5,100.00) and 60 grams of marijuana (resale value, $450.00). In addition, two firearms and $1,326.00 in currency were seized.
The large amount of narcotics seized in such a short time in a relatively small geographic area demonstrates the almost uncontrollable nature of illicit drug activity in our region. However, the processes law enforcement must use to investigate and apprehend subjects do not always bring immediate results.
In a recent phone interview, Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage spoke about the frustration citizens sometimes feel when it comes to dealing with drug-related crime.
“We cannot conduct a search or make an arrest without probable cause,” Cubbage said. “But we also don’t arrest someone and immediately put them back on the street.”
According to the sheriff, even after searches and arrests, law enforcement must follow a process for packaging and sending seized drugs to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science (DFS). They must then wait for a certificate of analysis necessary for court cases related to the apprehensions. In some cases, the process can take up to six months – well outside the window a subject is promised for the constitutional right to a speedy trial.
Cubbage assures citizens that complaints and reports do not fall on deaf ears. “Sometimes advice is helpful in an investigation that is already underway,” he added.
When observing possible illegal drug activity in Page County, the Sheriff encourages citizens to express their concerns productively.
“It’s important that callers speak directly to a law enforcement officer and not to office staff or dispatch,” Cubbage said.
Caller information is confidential and no information is considered too small.
“My door is always open,” Cubbage said.
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