Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught announced Saturday that Police Chief Tim Cecil and the New Martinsville Police Department are responsible for shutting down a criminal enterprise in Texas that was selling synthetic controlled substances known as "bath salts" through the mail.
Haught, via a Facebook post from his Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney's page, stated, "Federal authorities have executed search warrants on the criminal enterprise and federal and state indictments may be forthcoming."
Chief Cecil reported Tuesday that initially Police Officer Michael Owens had notified him as to Tyler County having issues with bath salts coming through the mail. "We went and checked our post office to see if there were any packages similar to what they got out there," Cecil noted. It was discovered that there were packages similar to what Tyler County had received, so law enforcement waited to see if anyone came to pick up the packages.
One of the packages that came through the post office belonged to Christopher Lee Leek, 27, of 33 Ross Street, New Martinsville. Cecil stated that Leek was pulled over by the NMPD. Suspected bath salts were found in possession of Leek and, after being mirandized, Leek admitted that he had a package of "fake pot."
A search warrant was obtained and two plastic containers of bath salts were found, along with two black foil packages of Bizarro Zencense.
On April 11 Leek was charged with possession with intent to deliver a Schedule I controlled substance. Leek was later released from the Northern Regional Jail on $30,000 bond.
"I have the feeling that shipping controlled substances in the mail and through UPS is somewhat prevalent nationwide, but we've had two instances now that we've prosecuted people for in this county," Haught stated.
Besides Leek, Haught was referencing Nelda K. White, 54, of Hundred, who was charged in April by the federal grand jury in Wheeling with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. A total of $23,500 was seized in January as part of White's investigation. Haught stated at the time that White was receiving large quantities of marijuana via UPS or Fed Ex.
Cecil reported that approximately $3,000 worth of bath salts have been recovered by law enforcement during this most recent investigation involving the Texan enterprise.
Haught indicated that more local arrests from this investigation could be forthcoming. "Right now we are waiting for the postal inspector who is handling the case to give me all the information from that, because I may charge individuals in Texas with conspiracy."
The post office has federal jurisdiction, according to Haught. "We have to work with the postal inspector's office," he said. "We can't obtain warrants. Only the federal postal inspector can . . . that's why there was a (traffic) stop.
"The impression I got from talking to the postal inspector was that authorities in Texas were hot on it, and they had actually gotten some warrants."
Haught noted that a big difficulty in the case is that bath salts can be synthetic cocaine and marijuana. "The big difficulty is that we can't go forward with prosecution until the labs get back with the results, he noted." "The good news is that according to the postal inspector, the site that was selling this, that we initially got our suspicion raised on, is shut down."
He stated that the individuals probably "just go back out, change their name, and open up another site . . . until the law catches up with them." And Haught obviously has every intention of catching up with them, he added that his intention is to indict everyone involved, "whether they are from West Virginia or Texas . . . I can't do it until the feds give me their file . . . They will review it for prosecution, and if they do not prosecute them, I will."