Sweep arrests dozens in the city
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Mar 26, 2013, 12:19
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS Law enforcement officials gather during the effort to round up suspects.
HOPEWELL — Dozens of people have been rounded up in a sweep of the city by law enforcement officials and dozens more are still being sought.
During the early morning hours on Thursday, Hopewell Police Department, along with other local, state and federal agencies, began “Operation Impact.” The operation is the result of a six-month investigation with the Hopewell Police Department Crime Suppression Unit, along with the assistance of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Richmond Field Office and the Central Virginia Narcotics Task Force. The operation netted 222 indictments on 64 individuals.
Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane said on Thursday afternoon, as he stood at the courthouse, across from the command center, that so far, 33 individuals of the 64 had been rounded up, with some having addresses in Petersburg, Chesterfield County, Dinwiddie County, and Prince George County.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Keohane said. “It’s just like shock and awe in the city. People have been calling, ‘What’s going on? What’s going on?’ It’s just a great representation of law enforcement and really helping a small city out with the issues of battling drug dealing and illegal activity in the city.”
Keohane said most of the indictments, which were handed down from the courts on March 15, involved illegal firearms charges, distribution of crack cocaine, and some distribution of marijuana. He also said 25 percent of the 64 have violent criminal histories and about 50 percent have had previous drug convictions.
“It’s time after a certain number of offenses, of convictions, of drug dealing that they feel the pressure of serving some suspended time from previous offenses,” Keohane said. “And that will truly help the city.”
Even during the operation, Keohane said more charges have been added on to some individuals, including one who had guns and drugs on him at 5:30 in the morning when he arrested.
With the first day of the operation winding down, Keohane said five illegal firearms had been collected, along with $6,000 to $7,000 in street value of crack cocaine.
“We are trying to improve the quality of life in that aspect,” Keohane said. “It’s a never-ending job. This is a good demonstration in how committed we are in trying to improve the quality of life in the city.”
Keohane said the operation was a culmination of over 100 law enforcement personnel. Assisting the police department over the two-day operation was the Virginia State Police, Hopewell Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshal’s Capitol Area Region Fugitive Task Force, ATF, FBI, and Virginia Department of Corrections.
“I believe this ‘Operation Impact’ will make an impact in the city of Hopewell,” Keohane said.
With half of the individuals arrested and half to go, Keohane said he knows word has spread of the operation in the city and had words of advice for those left.
“I firmly believe everybody of the 64 who have not been picked up know they’re wanted by now. Word travels,” Keohane said. “And I recommend them to turn themselves in as quickly as possible, because we won’t stop looking for them and we will be knocking on doors and addresses that they use. We will get them off the streets.”
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS A suspect gets fingerprinted.
Keohane said his mission of trying to improve the quality of life in the city is not even close to being over, especially ‘Operation Impact.’
“This is only one prong of this ‘Operation Impact,’” Keohane said. “There will be other pieces that we will lay out later on too. This is just the undercover operation part and there’s going to be a lot more to follow.”