OAK HILL, W.Va. — As U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Mike Stuart announced this week that another multi-state drug ring had been dismantled in West Virginia, there was more promising news resulting from a recent drug takedown in the southern region of the state

Fayette County Sheriff Mike Fridley told MetroNews affiliate WJLS the decrease in the immediate availability of illegal drugs in the county resulting from “Operation Mountaineer Highway” has caused a sharp increase in the number of people showing up at the county’s health department seeking treatment for addiction.

“They’ve had more people, this last two weeks, come in that were sent to rehab. So, that’s a good thing because they’re not able to get that poison because we’ve taken it off the streets, and it’s harder for them to find it,” said Fridley.

However, according to Fridley, local authorities and county officials expect that the ongoing economic hardship in the area inevitably will mean more people being tempted to engage in the lucrative illegal drug business.

“What’s going on in Wyoming County and Raleigh County with these mines closing down…there’s no jobs, and these people are making money. So, there are people probably going to be stepping in, and the bad thing is, it’s a business to them, so they branch out,” he said.

Fridley added that he hopes federal sentencing guidelines and possible lengthy prison terms that many suspects from the recent raid now face will provide some measure of deterrent to others who may tempted to become dealers in Fayette County.

On September 27th, Stuart announced that “Operation Mountaineer Highway” had resulted in the immediate arrests of more than three dozen suspected drug traffickers whom Stuart said were responsible for distributing over 600 grams of heroin, fentanyl and nearly a kilogram of methamphetamine, cocaine and oxycodone.

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