A grand jury in Tazewell County, Virginia, has handed down 52 indictments against 47 people who now face a variety of drug charges.
The indictments come after a year-long investigation conducted by the Tazewell County Narcotics Task Force in conjunction with a variety of agencies, including the Virginia State Police. Officials have apprehended many of those indicted, but some have not been found.
The area prosecutor said the prescription drugs coming from pain clinics in nearby states represent the primary drug problem in the state. Officials are seeing different substances coming into the area, as demonstrated by the evidence presented in court, he said.
The prosecutor said the amount of drugs and the variety was different for the area. The drugs involved ranged from methamphetamines to the painkiller oxycodone, with heroin also among the drugs. This is the first time for a heroin distribution charge in Tazewell County, the prosecutor said he believed.
The commonwealth attorney called the heroin indictment "disturbing." He said that the area had been able to avoid an influx of heroin distribution through the years and hoped that this case was rare and would not lead to future activity.
Those indicted range in age from 20 to 80 and largely face charges regarding possession or distribution of a variety of drugs. With so many defendants ensnared by the drug ring, it is possible police could have erred in identifying some of those indicted or could have mistakenly charged some of them. Some defendants might have the opportunity to mount a vigorous criminal defense.
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph, "47 indicted on drug charges," Greg Jordan, June 22, 2012