Police in Virginia just orchestrated the largest drug bust in the state in the past 15 years, arresting more than 30 people suspected of amassing “enough fentanyl to kill 14 million people,” according to CBS News.
The outlet reported that the massive bust was called “Operation Cookout” by police working the case and included the seizing of “over 30 kilograms of fentanyl, 30 kilograms of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine and over $700,000.” Police also seized about 24 firearms in the bust.
“This opioid crisis is not an issue that is happening someplace else, or to someone else. It’s happening right here in Norfolk,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, G. Zachary Terwilliger, said during a press conference last Thursday.
“We’re not talking about $500 and $600 deals, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he added. “You know, $20,000 in the trunk of somebody’s car in a gym bag, you know, behind a local restaurant.”
Thirty-five suspects have been arrested, while four more are on the run.
“The last thing we want is for the U.S. Postal Service to become the nation’s largest drug dealer and there are people way above my pay grade working on that, but absolutely it’s about putting pressure on the Chinese,” Terwilliger said at his press conference, as reported by CNN.
The outlet reported that a “grand jury charged 39 co-conspirators with 106 counts for their involvement in an alleged drug trafficking conspiracy that began in March 2016, according to the indictment.”
“Operation Cookout” spanned three states and involved one person who “ordered fentanyl from Shanghai and had it delivered to Virginia through the mail,” CBS reported.
CNN added that more than “120 law enforcement officers from 30 law enforcement agencies in Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas executed the three-day targeted arrest operation dubbed Operation Cookout.”
The suspects allegedly purchased drugs from Mexico, California, and New York and brought them to Virginia, where they then allegedly “transported the drugs using hidden traps in privately owned vehicles, semi-trailers, trucks, and recreational vehicles,” CNN reported.
The outlet also reported that the suspects used Facebook and encrypted communications apps such as FaceTime and WhatsApp in order to avoid detection. “Some suspects switched phones regularly and used prepaid cell phones that did not need a subscriber’s name,” the outlet reported.
Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult said at the press conference that other dealers should be aware.
“If you’re out there, you’re using firearms, you’re dealing drugs and you’re hurting people in our communities, this is the group of people that’s coming after you,” he said, according to CBS. “And we’re relentless.”