35 members of the ‘huge [multi-state] drug ring’ were arrested in bust called ‘operation cookout’, yield a huge cache of opioids in Virginia
During the arrests, authorities seized 30kg of fentanyl – ‘enough to kill 14M people’
Other drugs confiscated by agents include cocaine and heroin
The operation also netted 24 firearms and more than $700,000 over three days
More than 120 law enforcement officers from 30 law enforcement agencies in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas were involved in the arrest
Cops in the operation spanned out across Virginia, North Carolina and Texas
The illegal drugs were shipped up from Mexico, California and New York
Smugglers used hidden compartments in their vehicles to hide the drugs,
The drug ring used at least 94 ‘telecommunication devices,’ including pre-paid cell phones in their day-to-day operations, changed their devices regularly to thwart tracking
Suspects also communicated via Facebook and encrypted communications apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp
Charges include conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, cocaine base, and fentanyl
Conspiracy to launder money, felon in possession of a firearm, maintaining a drug-involved premises, use of a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking
Other charges include interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises, and illegal re-entry by a previously deported or removed alien
G. Zachary Terwilliger, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, addressing media over the bust Friday noted that ‘This massive interdiction of narcotics, which included enough fentanyl to kill over 14 million people, is proof positive of the power and strength of federal, state, and local law enforcement collaboration’
The drugs would end at various locations, including the houses and parking lots of businesses located in Newport News, Hampton, Suffolk, Carrolton, Yorktown, Lawrenceville, South Hill, and Richmond.
At least 94 ‘telecommunication devices,’ including pre-paid cell phones, were used by suspects in their day-to-day operations. Some were believed to have changed their devices regularly to thwart authorities.
Suspects also communicated via Facebook and encrypted communications apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp.
Charges leveled against members of the the ring include conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, cocaine base, and fentanyl; conspiracy to launder money; felon in possession of a firearm; maintaining a drug-involved premises; use of a communication facility in furtherance of drug trafficking; interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises; and illegal re-entry by a previously deported or removed alien.
‘This operation, through its seizure of scores of kilograms of illicit narcotics, saved lives in the Eastern District and elsewhere,’ said Terwilliger. ‘Any day where we can do that is particularly meaningful and impactful. An incredible thank you to our dedicated law enforcement partners and prosecutors.’