By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Wyoming County law enforcement agencies received another tool in the ongoing effort to break the deadly grip of illegal drug abuse with the announcement on Thursday that the county has been included as part of the 15 counties in West Virginia in the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., announced on Thursday that the federal government has included Wyoming County in the HIDTA region.
“Drug abuse and trafficking and the crime that accompanies it requires a coordinated response across all levels of government,” Rahall was quoted in a press release as stating. “I am working hard to ensure our state’s law enforcement officials have access to the resources and training and information that they need to help them protect our communities.”
Wyoming County Sheriff Randall Aliff said that cooperation among various agencies including local police, Wyoming County sheriff’s deputies, the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, the West Virginia State Police, FBI, IRS and ATF are all making a difference in the Wyoming County war on drugs.
“We’re seeing people get jail time for these crimes, and that’s good,” Aliff said during a telephone interview on Friday. “I see the devastation that drug abuse causes. I’ve seen the overdose deaths and what families go through. It’s not just one county’s problem. We just worked a six-month investigation and had people from Ohio and Detroit, Mich., bringing drugs into Wyoming County.
“We also had people from Wyoming County taking drugs into Mercer and McDowell counties, and people from McDowell and Mercer County bringing drugs into Wyoming County,” Aliff said. “That’s why cooperation among agencies is so important to us. It’s better when everyone works together.”
Aliff praised the work of the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force. “They work such good cases,” he said of the task force — an agency that has included a member from the Wyoming County Sheriff Department since it was founded. Other agencies in the task force include the West Virginia State Police, the McDowell and Mercer County Sheriff departments and the police departments of Bluefield and Princeton.
“They’re as good as I have ever seen,” Aliff said of the task force. “When they develop a case, they have the evidence to present in court. Most of the ones they arrest plead guilty rather than risk being convicted on all of the counts they are facing. It takes a special person to work in a task force, and to work with numerous federal and state agencies.”
Sgt. J.S. McCarty of the West Virginia State Police, head of the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, expressed his appreciation for Wyoming County’s continued support of the task force and Aliff’s efforts to get Wyoming County included in the Appalachia HIDTA.
“It secures a future for a specialized law enforcement officer in Wyoming County,” McCarty said.
The 15 West Virginia counties in the Appalachia HIDTA include: Boone, Brooke, Cabell, Hancock, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Ohio, Putnam and Wayne counties.
— Contact Bill Archer at email@example.com