OAK HILL, W.Va. — Following last week’s successful drug sting operation that was announced in Oak Hill, Fayette County Prosecutor Larry Harrah said the multi-agency roundup of alleged drug dealers needs to be viewed in the proper context.
Harrah, whose office was part of “Operation Mountaineer Highway,” pointed out that every takedown of an illegal drug distribution organization presents an opportunity for other criminals to fill the void. He said it’s important for both local authorities and for citizens not to be lulled into a false sense of security in their communities after a large-scale sting operation, such as the one that occurred in Fayette County on Thursday, takes place close to where they live and work.
“You’ve got to be vigilant about knowing your community and knowing when somebody new steps up, and what their doing, and getting the intel on that individual, and working a case on them,” said Harrah.
He added that any town or community, no matter how small, can become a hub for illegal drug activity, partly because of the ease with which drug dealers and suppliers can communicate and coordinate their activities in the modern era of mobile communications technology.
“We talk about Route 19 being a pretty significant thoroughfare…but I don’t know that that had anything to do with it…the folks who lived here, that were involved in it, they had the contacts. I don’t think it’s anything in particular. I think it’s more of who had contacts to get the supply,” he said.
Harrah stressed that high-profile takedowns, such “Operation Mountaineer Highway,” should not overshadow the importance of help those in his community who are suffering from drug addiction.
“One thing we need are more rehabilitation centers….the lack of resources that are available to the court system right now, that’s a problem that just overwhelms the court. We end up with a lot of people that need rehabilitation, and we have nowhere to put them,” Harrah said.
According to Harrah, the success of “Operation Mountaineer Highway” was only possible because multiple agencies were able to coordinate their efforts with an exchange of updated, accurate information during critical stages of the investigation, while simultaneously providing logistical support, as needed. He also noted that, in his opinion, the DEA has taken a much more aggressive approach to the ongoing drug crisis, over the last few years.