STUART, Va. — A round of indictments in Patrick County has led to drug charges against 100 people, including several Pilot Mountain- and Mount Airy-area residents who were still at large at last report.
The investigation that resulted in the 340 narcotics distribution indictments, against 98 different individuals, was the largest such operation ever conducted by the Patrick Sheriff’s Office.
Under the direction of Sgt. Eric O’Connell and Investigator Nicholas Pendleton, it spanned about 18 months and yielded methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, MDMA (ecstasy), marijuana and a vast assortment of Schedule 2, 3 and 4 prescription pills.
After a Patrick County grand jury handed down the sealed indictments on March 6, a massive manhunt was launched to apprehend the suspects, 36 of whom were arrested initially. Among other agencies assisting in that effort were the Surry County, Stokes County, Carroll County and Grayson County sheriff’s offices.
Many of those named in the indictments are incarcerated elsewhere or are residents of North Carolina, according to Patrick Sheriff Dan Smith. About half of the suspects named in the indictments are not Patrick County residents.
After initially being sealed as the roundup of suspects got away, indictments that had not been served were unsealed later, and the list of names of remaining suspects reveals some Surry Countians who were still fugitives at last report.
• Thomas David McCraw, 55, of 1503 E. Pine St., Mount Airy, who was indicted on three counts of distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance (methadone) and one count of conspiracy to distribute a Scheduled II controlled substance (methadone).
• James Mark Dollyhigh, 52, of 3766 W. Pine St., Mount Airy, one count of distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance (hydrocodone).
• Walter Grey Jessup, 34, of 246 Marshall Johnson Road, Pilot Mountain, three counts of distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance (morphine, oxycodone and methamphetamine) and two counts of possessing a firearm in connection with the distribution of Schedule II drugs.
Another area resident who was indicted but not listed as a fugitive is Joshua Monroe Woods, 27, of 1080 Ray Loop Road, Westfield. Woods is charged with one count each of distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance (hydrocodone) and conspiracy to distribute a Scheduled II controlled substance.
‘Your day is coming’
Sheriff Smith has made enforcement of drug laws a priority since taking office.
“Over the past eight years, we have arrested and successfully prosecuted more than 400 people who chose to sell drugs in Patrick County,” he said in a statement. “If you are selling and haven’t been caught yet, your day is coming.”
The Patrick sheriff said his office is grateful for and relies on the support given by all of the other agencies that assisted in the operation.
He said a special thanks is owed to Patrick Circuit Court Clerk Susan Gasparini and Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Vipperman and their respective staffs for many days of hard work in preparing, presenting and organizing the large number of indictments.
“This puts a strain on the entire criminal justice system in our county, but the end result is well worth it,” Smith said.
The sheriff added that nearly all of the 400 persons arrested in the past received significant jail and prison sentences.