NEW CUMBERLAND -Thirty-nine people accused of being involved in the trafficking of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs in Hancock County have been charged in federal and state court.
According to U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld II, Hancock County Prosecutor James Davis and Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher, an arrest operation took place early Thursday during which 22 defendants were taken into custody. Seventeen of them remain at large.
The sweep was spearheaded by the Hancock-Brooke-Weirton Drug Task Force and was supported by the Ohio Valley Drug Task Force of Wheeling, the Marshall County Drug Task Force, the Mountaineer Highway Interdiction Team, and the United States Marshals Service.
During the sweep, additional quantities of illegal drugs were recovered and additional charges may be filed as a result of those discoveries.
"We're fortunate to have such a talented and hard-working drug task force to serve the citizens of Hancock County," said Fletcher. "These men worked long hours to help to make the streets of Newell, Chester, and other communities in this county a safer place for everyone."
"Hancock County struggles with the fact that our boundaries to the north, east and west are the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the state of Ohio," said Davis. "This makes the transport of controlled substantives relatively easy from Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Columbus, Cleveland, Detroit and even the New Jersey area. That's why it takes a cooperative effort, such as the one that occurred in this investigation, to make a significant impact."
Nineteen of those involved were charged by a federal grand jury in Wheeling, which returned three separate indictments with a total of 94 counts related to the distribution of heroin, methamphetamine, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone in the Hancock County area.
Of the 39 individuals charged, six are from Chester; 10 are from Newell; eight are from East Liverpool; four are from New Cumberland; three are from Weirton; two are from New Brighton, Pa.; one is from Aliquippa, Pa.; one is from Georgetown, Pa.; two are from Mckees Rocks, Pa.; one is from Wellsburg; one is from Colliers and one is from Wellsville.