MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in West Virginia have announced the results of what they’re calling a complex, multi-state heroin trafficking bust.

Dozens of people in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania were arrested early Tuesday morning following a 163-count federal indictment that charges 41 people with facilitating an extensive, multi-state heroin trafficking operation.

“Heroin is the number one problem we’re dealing with in law enforcement today, throughout northern West Virginia and including the Eastern Panhandle,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II. 

The Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, along with the FBI and West Virginia State Police, helped lead what some officials said is the largest drug-related roundup in the area since the 1980’s. The United States Marshal Service and the Baltimore County Police Department are supporting the investigation.

Ihlenfeld said it initially began in November of 2014, when they focused in on Maryland resident Brian Hall, 27. The suspected ringleader of the operation organized a heroin distribution network from Baltimore to the surrounding region, authorities said.

According to investigators, individuals from Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia traveled to Baltimore to obtain heroin from Hall. After the traffickers received the drugs from Hall, police said they would redistribute the heroin in their localities. 

Charging documents indicate that Hall would frequently send text messages to his co-conspirators to organize when they could receive the drugs. Text messages Hall sent to his buyers that provided step-by-step directions were also listed in the charging documents. One of these texts reads: “Hey what’s up everybody. I will be back around 8pm tonight maybe earlier. Good news is that I have that grey fire its [sic] still killer and prices are strict on that…”

On February 27, a search warrant for Hall’s residence was executed. Police said they discovered over 230 grams of heroin, three grams of marijuana, at least 49 15-milligram oxycodone hydrochloride pills, over $22,000 and 18 cell phones. 

According to the U.S. Attorney Office of the Northern District of West Virginia, Hall has not been arrested but is being closely monitored by authorities. He is expected to be taken into custody on Wednesday.

Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster said that heroin has a deep impact in his community, and it affects his deputies nearly every day.

“The break-ins, the armed robberies – it’s all from people just trying to get the fast dollar to commit to their habits,” he said.

Of the 41 total suspects, 34 are residents of West Virginia – with 18 from Martinsburg alone. Berkeley County joined Frederick counties in Maryland and Virginia as a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area” last year, but neighboring Jefferson County has not received that designation.

Jefferson County Sheriff Peter Dougherty said that although the drug problem in his jurisdiction is significantly lower compared to Berkeley County, drug traffickers will commonly use Route 9 and U.S. Route 340 to transport narcotics from the greater Baltimore area to Virginia.

“We’re the island sort of in between the others, so we need to get included in that,” he said. “That designation brings additional resources to help us, and help the greater effort in our area.”

Ihlenfeld said that investigators believe there are many more people involved in the operation that have not been indicted, and a second phase of the investigation could happen soon with more arrests. However, others said the bigger solution to the heroin epidemic may lie not with law enforcement, but in the community.

“We are not going to arrest our way out of the heroin problem,” Sheriff Dougherty said. “We’re going to have to address it on the demand side. These people aren’t going to be selling drugs if people aren’t willing to buy them.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that only one suspect, James Ross, is unaccounted for at this time. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts is asked to call the FBI at 412-432-4000.

Here’s a full list of the names included on the indictment: 
  • Jared Michael Belanger, 35, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Roma Michelle Bland, 37, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Lindsay Bohrer, 37, of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
  • Shawn Blain Bowers, 36, of Braddock Heights, Maryland
  • Theresa Brewer, 61, of Braddock Heights, Maryland
  • Kenneth Bryan Crowley, 38, of Rockville, Maryland
  • James R. Dove, 30, of Keyser, West Virginia
  • Clinton Dunlap, a.k.a. “K.D.,” 31, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • James Wesley Faircloth, 34, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Veronica Gladden, 32, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Harmony Hahn, 31, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Bonnie Hanna, 34, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • James Francis Hansen, Jr., 48, of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
  • Javier Lewis Howard, 32, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • James Miner Jenkins, 36, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Jessica Kesecker, 33, of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
  • Brandon Kidwell, 23, of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
  • Darla Kinser, 29, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Edward Lee Knotts, a.k.a. “Eddie,” 32, of Ranson, West Virginia
  • Jeffery David Murphy, a.k.a. “J.D.,” 34, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Brandon Lee Odell, 32, of Inwood, West Virginia
  • Scott Andrew Ours, a.k.a. “D,” 32, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Melissa Portrey, a.k.a. “Missy,” 47, of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
  • Josh Reid, 32, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Craig Rhodes, 46, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
  • Cassandra Elaine Riggs, a.k.a “Casey Braithwaite,” 25, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • James Michael Ross, 32, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Cortney Blaire Saylor, a.k.a “C,” 29, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Megan Saylor, 32, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Robert Hamilton Shanley-Sexton, a.k.a. “Robbie,” 23, of Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Frederick Smitherman, a.k.a. “Freddy,” 36, of Inwood, West Virginia
  • William Thomas Stine, a.k.a. “Tom,” 39, of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Cameron Steinbaugh, 28, of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
  • Teddy Edward Threadgill, 46, of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
  • Veronica Thomas, 24, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
  • Bruce Morton Vaudrien, Jr., 45, of Kearneysville, West Virginia
  • Michelle Lynn Warnick, 32, of Kearneysville, West Virginia
  • William Lee Wasson, a.k.a. “Bill,” 38, of Falling Waters, West Virginia
  • Sarah Marie Weant, 26, of Kearneysville, West Virginia 
  • Steward Eugene Whitehead, Jr., a.k.a. “Geno,” 29, of Inwood, West Virginia