West Virginia is fighting a desperate drug war on every front, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Crack dealers are flooding the state from all sides, especially from Columbus and Detroit, where many trace their roots to Appalachia, and from Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington, D.C., and other cities. “You see what 15 or 20 years ago was a nice community and now it’s not so nice,” said FBI agent Joe Ciccarelli. “It’s the end of the supply line. We don’t have multiple kilos coming in here the way I saw in Miami. But I think you see the impact here. You see the human toll it takes.”
Homegrown cocaine rings have killed federal informants. Methamphetamine labs dot the backwoods. An epidemic of prescription pill abuse rages in impoverished southern coalfields, where a podiatrist was recently accused of doling out prescriptions for cash. Out-of-state crack dealers take advantage of the wide-open gun culture to buy weapons cheap and resell them back home, setting up lucrative import-export enterprises. “The world is coming to rural southern West Virginia,” said Charlie Brown, the head of an anti-drug community group and the chief probation officer in Logan. “We’re no longer insulated by our mountains.” Dealers come because there’s little competition so the money is good, and law enforcement, sometimes derided as “Barney Fife,” is perceived as less effective than in metro areas.