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Operation Witches Brew Nets Arrest of 54 Meth ‘Smurfers’ and ‘Cookers,’ Largest Roundup in Ashe County History

Photo submitted
Photo submitted

By Jesse Wood

Oct. 24, 2014. In Ashe County, “Operation Witches Brew,” a joint investigation between local law enforcement agencies, netted the arrest of 54 “smurfers” and “cookers,” who are the people who buy the products to make methamphetamine and hand it off to those that make the highly-addictive stimulant.

The operation was the largest meth roundup in Ashe County’s history, and the announcement of the operation’s success was made on Thursday.

“For the past two years, we have been conducting investigations and making arrests, and today’s arrests are the largest meth roundup ever in this county,” Ashe County Sheriff James Williams said. “We tried to get as many as possible to sweep with a broom at one time to get a better chance of shutting these operations down.”

Law enforcement look at a projector featuring all of the suspects.
Law enforcement look at a projector featuring all of the suspects.

The charged “smurfers” will be held on $250,000 bond for purchasing the meth ingredients, while the “cookers” manufacturing the meth will be held on $500,000 bond – both at the Ashe County Jail.

The joint investigation between the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office and State Bureau of Investigation included the participation of the Boone Police Department and Alleghany Sheriff’s Office.

“This is a team effort,” Williams said. “Any operation of this size– the partnership is invaluable.

Paul Carson, a special agent with the SBI in charge of the Northwestern district, added: “Many of our SBI agents are certified in dismantling clandestine labs. Throughout this operation, we have decontaminated five active labs. The goal is to make it harder and harder for anyone looking for this drug to find a seller.”