PARKERSBURG - Authorities arrested two people Sunday afternoon and were conducting search operations at a Vienna residence Sunday night in connection with an alleged heroin distribution operation.
In a separate case being investigated by the West Virginia State Police and other agencies, authorities said a suspected meth lab explosion injured a Parkersburg man early Sunday evening.
The Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force, the Wood County Sheriff's Department, Parkersburg and Vienna police departments and the State Police worked throughout Sunday evening on the heroin investigation, said Corporal C.A. Blevins with the PNTF.
Agents first executed a search warrant at 1016 19th St. in Parkersbug, where officers allegedly located a firearm and paraphernalia. Officers then executed a search warrant at 916 29th St. in Vienna, where they allegedly located two handguns and approximately 100 grams of suspected heroin, with an approximate street value of $40,000, Blevins reported.
Agents arrested Robert Lamar Bates-Porter, 26, of 1016 Hill St., Belpre, on felony charges of possession of heroin with intent to deliver and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Agents also arrested Trice Daniell, 26, of 1016 19th St., Parkersburg, on a charge of delivery of heroin, stemming from a controlled purchase by the task force, Blevins said.
Blevins said the PNTF had been conducting the investigation on Bates-Porter and Daniell for several months and the heroin was believed to have been brought into the area from Detroit.
Following arraignment Sunday night in Wood County Magistrate Court on the charges, Daniell's bond was set at $150,000, while Bates-Porter had his bond set at $305,000. Both failed to post bond and remained incarcerated, Blevins said.
The PNTF is continuing its investigation and additional arrests are pending, he said.
Sgt. Greg Collins, with the Parkersburg Police Department, said the Aggressive Crime Enforcement Task Force (ACE) and the Vienna Police Department S.W.A.T. team were involved in the search conducted Sunday night at the Vienna location.
Sunday night's investigation was the culmination of several months of work and investigation by local authorities, primarily the PNTF, Collins said. The investigation included controlled buys and surveillance.
It also comes on the heels of a series of arrests in late October involving a Chicago-based heroin distribution ring. At least five people were arrested Oct. 24-25 at various locations in Parkersburg on drug charges and police recovered 156 grams of heroin during that operation.
"They are responsible for the vast majority of the heroin that is hitting the streets in Wood County," Collins said of the two out-of-town groups. "We fully expect this to put a substantial hurt on the heroin that's hitting the streets in Parkersburg."
Collins said authorities even had information that the Detroit group being investigated Sunday was pleased by what happened to the Chicago group in October, hoping it would mean more money for them.
"It was such a big operation, we had to divide it into two different operations" in terms of investigation and execution, he said. "But we're really happy with the results."
In the meth lab case, Trooper First Class C.S. Jackson reported that about 5 p.m. Sunday, officers were dispatched by Wood County 911 to 103 Walnut St. in Parkersburg, in reference to an explosion at a residence. Responding officers were advised the explosion may be from a meth lab, Jackson said.
Upon arrival, officers discovered that Mark Edward Lee, 36, of 694 Winding Road, Parkersburg, was present at the residence with severe chemical burns to his arms, torso and face. While on-scene, officers also detected the odor of a meth lab where shortly thereafter, evidence was discovered of a shake and bake meth lab behind the residence, he said.
Officers allege that Lee was attempting to manufacture methamphetamine inside the residence when it exploded. The lab was thrown out a back window where a small chemical fire occurred and was shortly extinguished, he said.
During processing, officers with the State Police, Wood County Sheriff's Department, and members from the ACE Team located additional suspected meth labs at the residence, which sustained minor damage to its siding and to personal property in the bedroom, he reported.
Jackson said Lee was transported by ambulance to Camden Clark Medical Center for treatment Sunday night and upon further investigation and release from the hospital, could face criminal charges.