Roundup

Arrests are continuing this afternoon in a Smyth County drug roundup that’s expected to net 94 arrests on 162 drug charges.

Sheriff Chip Shuler estimated Thursday morning that about 95 percent of the charges are methamphetamine distribution charges.  

By Thursday afternoon, about two dozen suspects had been taken into custody.

 “Today will be a very busy day for Smyth County deputies as they go throughout the county making these arrests,” Shuler said. “I am extremely proud of my narcotics unit for all their hard work and also give credit to our uniformed patrol for their attention to drug enforcement while patrolling our communities.”

Of the 162 charges, four are manufacturing charges. Only eight are misdemeanors, most of which accompany a felony charge, Shuler said.

The roundup is the culmination of an 18-month undercover investigation dubbed “Operation Ice Storm,” which led the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to run a special grand jury session two weeks ago.

Shuler believes most of the suspects were selling the drug in order to support their own addiction. While he doesn’t believe those suspects were turning a profit from the drug, he said the quantities were significant.

“It’s really sad, but we can’t let that go on either,” he said.

He hopes some of the arrests serve as a wakeup call, prompting the suspects to seek treatment, he said.

Shuler noted a special thanks to citizens who have called in tips about suspected drug activity in their neighborhoods.

“You are our eyes and ears, we cannot do this job alone,” he said.

The sheriff’s office was assisted by officers with the Marion, Chilhowie and Saltville police departments, the Virginia State Police, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Of the 94 suspects, 22 are already incarcerated. Indictments will remain sealed until individuals are served.

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