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Virginia Drug Probe Brings Indictments Against 64

Authorities today said a six-month investigation that focused on illegal drug activity in the Hopewell area has resulted in 222 felony indictments against 64 people.

The results of the investigation, which was called "Operation Impact" and conducted by Hopewell police with the assistance of the Virginia State Police and Central Virginia Narcotics Task Force, were announced at a news conference this morning.

The news conference across from the Hopewell Police Department was held to coincide with a two-day roundup involving nearly 100 local, state and federal law-enforcement officers seeking defendants from Hopewell and Petersburg as well as the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Prince George.

A special grand jury returned indictments Friday on charges range from possession and distribution of narcotics to conspiracy in the distribution of crack cocaine and marijuana.

As of about 10 a.m. today, police had rounded up about half of the 64 people targeted in the investigation. Police vehicles with drug suspects inside could be seen periodically pulling up to a detention area at the Hopewell Courthouse for processing and interogration.

So far, police have seized four weapons, about $6,000 in cash and narcotics with a street value of about $6,000, said Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Molnar.

"When you are removing 64 individuals on 220 charges -- a lot of them with violent pasts and previous drug convictions -- we believe this is going to make a major dent into the drug activity and criminal activity in the city of Hopewell," said Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane as he stood near the mobile operations center for the enforcement effort in downtown Hopewell. "This operation is going to sent a message to the city of Hopewell that we mean business."

He described many of the suspects as street level dealers, but "we have a couple of targets that may be some major suppliers in the city of Hopewell."

Keohane believes the arrests will also positively impact the city's violent crime rate, "because the ones that are usually committing the violent crimes are many times the ones involved in the drug trade."

"I will use every resource I can -- from the Virginia State Police to the federal agencies -- to come into town to help me. And we're going to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Hopewell," Keohane added.

Copyright 2013 - Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service