BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — A new law enforcement team that’s now on the roads in Harrison County and surrounding areas is charged with stemming the tide of illegal drugs flooding into north central West Virginia.

U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld, State Police Captain James Merrill and Bridgeport Police Chief John Walker announced the creation of the Mountaineer Highway Interdiction Team, called MHIT South, on Thursday in Bridgeport.

Those with State Police, the Bridgeport Police Department, the Clarksburg Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are part of the effort which is concentrated on highways and state routes, airports, bus terminals, hotels and motels along with parcels and packages shipped through the mail.

“Their focus will be on trying to go after the sources of supply, the more significant dealers in the region, and the hope is, eventually, those organizations will elect not to do business in West Virginia anymore and they’ll go elsewhere,” said Ihlenfeld.

Their work, he said, will support the Greater Harrison Drug Task Force and other law enforcement agencies in the region.

Since launching in late 2013, Ihlenfeld said MHIT South has been credited with 50 arrests, mostly those related to drug charges, and seizures of illegal prescription medications, heroin and meth.

MHIT South is the second such cooperative effort involving local, state and federal officials in West Virginia’s northern district.  The first Mountaineer Highway Interdiction Team, MHIT North, launched in the Northern Panhandle in 2011.

In 2013, MHIT North made 235 arrests, seized more than 1,600 dosages of prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, confiscated large amounts of heroin, cocaine and marijuana and recovered $40,000 in illegal drug trafficking proceeds.

“We found in the Northern Panhandle that we don’t see as much coming through, at least on Interstate 70, because of the presence of this interdiction team,” Ihlenfeld told MetroNews.

He said such a focused effort is needed.  “We are seeing a lot of drugs coming into the region.  We’re seeing large quantities of heroin coming into the region and, as we all know, we’ve all been talking about it a lot lately, heroin is such a deadly drug,” said Ihlenfeld.

“Sometimes, it gets mixed in with other drugs, such as fentanyl, and it’s killing people.  So we need to put ever more pressure on these drug traffickers.”

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  • Jima.

    Supply and demand.....people with substance abuse disorders will obtain their drug of choice regardless of any attempts to curtail the supply...eliminate the demand and the suppliers will move on. Treatment instead of prison is a no brainier....,thats where the money should go!!!

  • Independent View

    Within the past few months many WV City police departments have aquired and are using the license plate reader technology. Mass information that is stored first on a state police server then, transferred to--guess where--the federal government! The units are provided to police departments free, under a grant from a shell organization, but connect the dots and the grants and information would probably lead one to the Department of Homeland Security. Am I the only one on here that believes that citizens' constitutional rights are being violated in the name of fighting crime and providing security? “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Benjamin Franklin.

    • Jason412

      I read recently the LPR infio in Buckhannon goes to an information center monitored by Homeland Security.

      It was also said Homeland Security is who provided the machine.

      It does make you wonder why DHS is providing such technology to a city that clearly doesnt need it, since its resulted in 0 traffic stops since they've had it

  • Maynard

    Thank you, Mr. Ihlenfeld. For the sake of our kids, keep up the efforts.


    We need this type of effort to protect the water supply!

  • Scott

    I can't believe this is going on in the North.I thought things like this just happened in the Southern counties.

  • knows

    Well no matter how much $ they spend they will never eliminate the drug problems. Its the old risk/reward thing. Llike usual it comes down to $

  • zero tolerance

    More PR to deflect the failures associated with the quadruple murder in 2013.

  • wvumounties8

    Oh hell, why don't we just eliminate all laws ans regulations and make anything and everything legal. Then everything will be roses and rainbows.......duh!!!!

  • vanch

    another waste of taxpayer money, they will never learn.

  • knows

    Or "poor man cemetery". Some of this $ could also be used for the way too numerous welfare programs that need to be decreased in numbers anyway. Unless they are missing a leg etc after a couple weeks sleeping under the bridge they will either get off their asses or will no longer be a public burden cuz they froze to death

  • knows

    I never have and never will use drugs but if u want then out of the business just legalize em. Prices would go way down. And we would need way fewer cops. $ could be used to help pay deficits along with new tax on said products. A few %of the new tax could be used for treatment etc

    • Ronin

      Dream on. The biggest addicts in the United States are the law enforcement agencies receiving millions in Byne grants to make arrests.

      Not to get convictions or to have any discernible effect on the community, just to get arrests on the books. A bean-counter's drug war.

      Now, given the choice between a cancer patient armed with a bag of Cheetos or a meth dealer with a Glock (probably lost by a cop or the feds), which do you think the police go after to rack up the numbers?

      Prohibition makes money for the police, private prisons and rehab centers even as it creates fear among the population and huge profits for the black market that Kennedy kid seems to think is such a good idea.

      No one in their right mind want to legalize everything, just as no one in their right mind thinks that George Washington was a drug dealer, even though he was planning to create a market for smoking hemp that would rival that of tobacco, meaning that, under today's laws, he, along with most of the Founding Fathers and colonists, would be serving 15 to life for manufacturing and distributing a control substance.

      Congratulations and thank you for your interdiction of heroin, meth and oxycodone, the truly destructive poisons that are and have been flooding this region.