BRIDGEPORT, W. Va. – At a press conference Thursday, United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld announced the preliminary results of an enhanced operation by the Mountaineer Highway Interdiction Team which occurred during the week in Harrison County.
Alongside Police Chief John Walker from the Bridgeport Department, Police Chief Robbie Hilliard from the Clarksburg department and Captain James Merrill of the West Virginia State Police, Ihlenfeld praised MHIT South’s first major operation.
“We had what we like to call a blitz,” Ihlenfeld said. “Saturated the area with extra patrols, not only out on the roadways but also behind the scenes with parcel and package interdiction. It was very effective.”
Five felony charges and 11 misdemeanor charges have been filed so far, along with sixty-eight issued citations. There have also been arrests for driving under the influence, transferring stolen property, a fugitive warrant was served, one active felony warrant was served and drugs with a street value of $48,060 were recovered. Substances included heroin, synthetic cathinones, commonly known as bath-salts, and marijuana.
The blitz will continue through the rest of the week so the final numbers are not in. However, Ihlenfeld wanted the public to know they are getting results.
“Overall, it was a success for the community and you’ll be reading about prosecutions in state and federal court in weeks and months to come as a result of this week,” he said.
The team said effort were predominately driven by intel they received from the public.
This information lead to a clearer pattern the team could detect and reinforced the need to work together.
“It seems like a lot of the players are setting up shop in some of these rural areas,” Captain Merrill said. “So, it’s beneficial for us when we get this drug intel, to work together, share this information and then start targeting some of these businesses.”
The Mountaineer Highway Interdiction Team was originally an concept formed in Ohio County, connecting the various agencies with the public. It was so successful, they wanted to do the same in Harrison County.
A taskforce was pieced together to begin the work leading up to the blitz and extra patrols were added for the operation. Now, MHIT South is fully in place and will look to build on the momentum.
“These agencies are dedicated to this fight,” Ihlenfeld said. “It also shows anyone who might be thinking about engaging in drug trafficking or those who are already engaging in drug trafficking that this maybe is not the best area to do so. There’s lots of police presence in this community to deal with this problem.”
Ihlenfeld hopes to have the final statistics from the blitz available on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.