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By SHARON GRAVES
In the pre-dawn hours Thursday morning, troopers from the Kentucky State Police and law-enforcement officers from Carroll and five surrounding counties converged in an effort to take 68 people – all indicted for alleged drug trafficking – off the streets.
Known as Operation Round-Up, the sting 49 arrests by the end of the day. Of those arrested, 19 are from Carroll County. The alleged offenders included men and women, ranging in age from 18-..; there were father-son duos, father-daughter duos and a brother-and-sister duo among them.
The remaining 19 people indicted will be sought until they are arrested, officials said.
It is one of the largest drug busts in recent history, said Sgt. Vic Hubbic, KSP supervisor for street-level narcotics.
Hubbick said those indicted in the operation all are alleged to have sold drugs at least three times during the intensive 18-month investigation.
Those arrested Thursday were rousted out of bed, handcuffed, placed in police cruisers and transported to a temporary booking station set up in the National Guard Armory in Carrollton. The station was set up by employees of the Carroll County Detention Center.
“This took cooperation of the agencies involved and a lot of good detective work,” said Trooper Chip Perry, public information officer for KSP Post 5 in Campbellsburg. “Everyone worked together to accomplish this.”
Hubbich said the operation relied heavily on local informants providing information to the various law enforcement agencies involved. In a true team effort, information gathered by local authorities was passed along to undercover KSP detectives, providing up-to-the-minute details of the whereabouts of the suspects.
“Local law enforcement doesn’t have the manpower or the money to buy the drugs, and we [KSP] have the resources and the people to get this done,” Hubbich said.
Post 5 was aided in the operation by personnel from Post 4 in Elizabethtown and Post 6 in Dry Ridge; sheriff’s departments from Carroll, Gallatin, Trimble, Henry and Owen Counties; members of the Carrollton and Owenton police departments; Commercial Vehicle Enforcement officers; four KSP canine units; and a team from CCDC.
More than 50 law enforcement officers from the five-county area covered by Post 5 met at 5 a.m. Thursday at the Armory for a briefing and final instructions. The first cruiser left the parking lot at 5:27 a.m., followed by a parade of more police vehicles – lights and sirens off.
Within 10 minutes, the first prisoner was brought in to be interviewed and booked.
Officers worked in 12 four-man teams; each team received a packet of information and documents for each individual to be arrested, including photos of the suspects, a copy of each suspect’s drivers license, a consent-to-search form, an arrest warrant and the official grand jury indictment.
KSP Trooper David Roberts said the teams included four officers each not to “strong arm” the suspects, but to ensure the operation is conducted safely.
“Sometimes you might have people who want to exit out the back door,” Roberts said. “We take four to make sure those things don’t happen, because the last thing we want is for someone to try to flee and get hurt or [for] one of our officers get hurt.”
At the armory, Perry regularly gave details to the press as the day unfolded. He said of the 68 suspects to be arrested, four were juveniles. All but four charges among those indicted were for felony charges; all were related to drug trafficking, including trafficking within 1,000 yards of a school; some also were charged with being persistent felony offenders.
Of the juveniles arrested, one came from Carroll County, one from Gallatin and two from Owen county. Two of the teenagers were juveniles when they allegedly sold drugs to informants or under-cover officers, but are adults now. One of them was arrested for selling heroin. They will continue through the juvenile system at this time.
Most of the offenders arrested were lodged in the CCDC after being processed at the armory. All defendants will be tried in the county in which the offense took place, Perry said.
During arraignments on Monday, defendants arrested for crimes committed in Carroll and owen counties were placed on $25,000 cash bonds. Those arraigned in Trimble, Gallatin and Henry counties were placed on cash bonds ranging from $500 to $2,500. Bonds are set at the discretion of each district court judge.
Perry said one goal of Operation Round-Up is to make anyone who involved or thinking about becomine involved in drug-trafficking to think twice.
“They [drug traffickers] need to know that they don’t know who they can trust. Friends are turning in friends,” Perry said. “If you’re selling drugs, you don’t know who is buying from you.”
Perry said just selling one pill can be a felony. “A felony on your record can ruin your life. They [drug traffickers] don’t know what they are getting themselves into. Even if you think it’s for a friend, that friend might be in trouble and using you to get out of trouble.”
Hubbich said he and other law enforcement officials wanted to extend their appreciation to the National Guard unit in Carrollton for use of the armory. “This was the perfect place to use as a staging area, and we appreciate their willingness to help.”