Huntington has huge drug bust

Published 7:46 am Wednesday, April 18, 2018

May slow flow of heroin, fentanyl into Ironton

A huge drug bust in Huntington, West Virginia could have a positive effect on Ironton.

On Tuesday, more than 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officers including Huntington, state and Marshall University police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the West Virginia National Guard, the FBI and local sheriff’s departments were in Huntington to take down a multi-state group that was bringing heroin, fentanyl and cocaine into town from Detroit. According to media reports, 760 grams of heroin, 450 grams of fentanyl and 167 grams of cocaine were seized and 30 people were arrested by mid-day Tuesday.

“This tickles us to death,” said Ironton Police Detective Captain Joe Ross of the arrests and the large amount of drugs taken off the streets. “This will make a big difference in the drugs we see.”

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He said that he has interviewed people after they were arrested for drugs and estimates that 80-90 percent of the heroin and fentanyl coming into Ironton comes via Huntington.
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said that amount of fentanyl was enough to kill 250,000 people, that is the equivalent of the population of Columbus and Huntington combined.

“A lot of those people that could have died from that would have probably been from Lawrence County or the City of Ironton,” Ross said. “If it saves people from dying, that is a great plus for us.”

He said that when his department does undercover drug buys, it is usually $25 for one dose of 1/10 of a gram of heroin.

Ross said that one reason for the high numbers of recent drug overdoses and deaths is because sellers are mixing heroin and fentanyl.

“It used to be that when they bought 1/10 of a gram of heroin, they were getting heroin,” he said. “Now that 1/10 of a gram could be 90 percent fentanyl, because it is so cheap.”

Ross said that sometimes users are getting Carfentanil, which is a synthetic opioid meant for horses that is approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

More arrests are expected in Huntington and Detroit as part of the U.S. Attorney’s operation continues.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.