Virginia police seize over 1,000 vape cartridges linked to national illnesses

Virginia police seize over 1,000 vape cartridges linked to national illnesses
Left to Right: Julian Keith Tracey-Rucker, Alex Ralph Copeland, Kendric Copeland. (Source: WHSV via Waynesboro Police Dept.)

WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) — Police seized over 1,000 vials of liquid THC vape pen cartridges that have been linked to recent lung illnesses in Waynesboro this week.

According to the Waynesboro Police Department, members of the Waynesboro SWAT team and Special Operations Division carried out a search warrant in the 400 block of James Avenue just after 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24.

Police had gotten a tip from the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force in central Virginia earlier in the week, letting them know that a person wanted out of Virginia Beach was reported to be living in the home.

Reports were that the person could be trafficking drugs through the mail.

As the SWAT team made entry into the home, police say one suspect tried to flee through the back door, but was immediately captured by other officers securing the perimeter.

Inside the house, the SWAT team came face-to-face with two other suspects. Police say they both had firearms within feet of them, but they smartly chose to surrender to the SWAT team members.

Afterward, as they searched the home, police say they recovered $46,389 in cash, 2.5 pounds of marijuana, half an ounce of psychedelic mushrooms, a gram and a half of "dab" (refined marijuana), one loaded AR-15 with a drum magazine, one loaded 9mm. handgun, five ecstasy tablets, and 1,081 "Dank" brand vape pen vials, each containing about 1 gram of 90% pure liquid THC.

Vape pen cartridges containing THC have been one of the biggest factors in ongoing investigations into lung illnesses across the country that the CDC says are connected to vaping.

Officials are looking into the presence of vitamin E acetate as a commonality among many samples tested containing THC; in high quantities, vitamin E acetate can cause serious lung issues.

Specifically, the "Dank" brand that was found in the Waynesboro home has been connected directly to several of the cases.

Police say the cartridges sell for about $35 each, making the street value of what was found around $37,000.

Three people were arrested: 35-year-old Julian Keith Tracey-Rucker, of Waynesboro; 25-year-old Alex Ralph Copeland, of Waynesboro; and 24-year-old Kendric Copeland, of Waynesboro.

Julian Keith Tracey-Rucker was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession with intent to sell more than one half ounce but less than five pounds of marijuana, and possession of a firearm while attempting to distribute more than one pound of marijuana.

Alex Copeland was charged with possession with intent to distribute more than a half ounce but less than five pounds of marijuana, possession of a firearm while attempting to distribute more than one pound of marijuana, anda probation violation out of Virginia Beach.

Kendric Copeland was charged with possession with intent to distribute more than a half ounce but less than five pounds of marijuana and possession of a firearm while attempting to distribute more than one pound of marijuana.

Tracey-Rucker is being held without bond at Middle River Regional Jail. Both of the Copelands are being held on $2,000 bond at Middle River.

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