Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 9, 2006

Wanted: Drug dealers

BLUEFIELD — Law enforcement officials in southern West Virginia are seeking the public’s help in identifying drug dealers across the area.

Beginning today, a coupon-type advertisement is being published in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph requesting anonymous tips.

“Wanted: Drug Dealers,” the ad reads. “Report your local drug dealer.” This is followed by a place to write the name of the suspected dealer and his or her address.

The idea for running the ad in the Bluefield and Mercer County area was spurred by the success of similar projects in other counties, Bluefield Police Chief Joe Wilson said.

“It’s an easier way for people to report something and make an anonymous tip,” he said. “They may not feel comfortable calling in because of Caller I.D.”

With this method, people can simply “cut out the coupon, fill in the name of the suspected drug dealer and the individual’s address, and mail it in.”

The coupons can be mailed to Wilson or the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.

The newspaper-tip program began in McDowell County, said Task Force Sgt. Ted Jones. “Sheriff Danny Mitchell started running an ad down there and we had a tremendous response.”

The Wyoming County Sheriff’s Department then initiated a similar program, which was also successful, Jones said. “So, we wanted to try to do it here in Bluefield.”

Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming counties are all within the jurisdiction of the Southern Regional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.

“A lot of the ads that were turned in helped further some long-term investigations we’ve had, and it has also helped with short-term cases,” Jones said.

For example, Wilson said if police are investigating a suspected drug dealer and 10 coupons are received also naming the individual as a possible dealer, this additional documentation could help police obtain a search warrant.

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