Mingo officers round up suspects in drug crackdown
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Weeks after Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum was gunned down, authorities continued his work cracking down on the drug trade by rounding up a dozen suspected dealers.
As of 2 p.m., officers had arrested 12 of 17 people being sought for drug-related offenses ranging from delivery of crack cocaine to prescription pills, said Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel.
"And we'll be picking the rest of them up real soon," Rockel said Thursday afternoon.
Rockel is also the commander of the Mingo County Sheriff's Department's Drug Task Force.
Many of the drug investigations that led to Thursday's arrest began under Crum's brief term.
Crum was fatally shot in downtown Williamson on April 3 in broad daylight. He was killed while sitting in his department vehicle eating lunch near a pill mill that he had helped shut down.
The suspect in the shooting, Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, of Delbarton, was shot in a police chase after the shooting and remains in custody.
He is currently recovering in Cabell-Huntington Hospital. He has been indicted on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and fleeing with reckless indifference.
"This is part of the ongoing investigation that Sheriff Crum started," Rockel said. "And we're going to have more indictments coming."
Crum was known for initiating Operation Zero Tolerance, a crackdown on drug trafficking. Many were concerned his mission would not continue after his death, Rockel said.
"I can still hear him (Crum) saying it now, 'Keep fighting,'" he said. "I want people to know that we're still going to fight, and we're going to try to make Mingo County a safer place to be."
Officers began rounding up suspects about 8 a.m. Thursday. They met with very little resistance, Rockel said.
"We got most of them while they were still in bed," he said.
Only one officer sustained minor injuries when authorities conducted a forced entry into a home, Rockel said. The officer accidentally cut himself while entering the home.
He was taken to the hospital with a minor self-sustained wound.
"We had a few people mouth off a bit when they got arrested," Rockel said. "But we didn't have any resistance."
Officers confiscated drugs and cash, but no guns.
"And that's a good thing," he said.
Officers with the Mingo County Sheriff's Department and the Delbarton, Williamson and Gilbert police departments, as well as deputies with the U.S. Marshal's office, conducted the roundup.
Efforts are being made to find suspects in across the Tug Fork River in neighboring Pike County, Ky., as well.
"Sheriff Crum always said, 'If you're dealing drugs, we're going to be knocking on your door,'" Rockel said.
The police chief knew Crum for about 20 years, but the two became really close about eight months ago when Rockel became commander of the drug task force.
"We got together to investigate the drug situation in this county," Rockel said. "We found out that we both shared some of the same values."
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and state Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, was pleased that officers were continuing Crum's work. He believes the drug roundup is part of the healing process officers must undergo.
"It just really makes you feel good to help continue his work," Marcum said.
Like all counties in the Mountain State, Mingo has a drug problem, he said. Officers in the county recognize the problem and are meeting it "head on."
"It's more than an addiction," Marcum said. "It's an infectious disease that has been spreading throughout the county and it has to stop."
The suspects will be arraigned today in Mingo County Court, Marcum said.