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Dozens of suspected drug dealers had their sleep abruptly interrupted Thursday morning when they were nabbed in Operation Roundup.
The procedure varied little for officers out on the streets before 6 a.m. Nov. 13, approaching darkened houses looking for 68 people recently indicted for trafficking drugs. Teams of four surrounded each house, with one cautiously knocking on the door as the others watched for movement inside the residence. In most cases, suspects opened doors willingly, helping ensure the arrests went as smoothly as possible for all involved.
Upon making contact with each suspect, officers secured their wrists with plastic zip ties and recited the requisite Miranda Rights. Then it was off to the Kentucky National Guard armory in Carroll County where each detainee was photographed and questioned before being loaded into a passenger van for the short trip to the Carroll County Regional Detention Center.
Not until they arrived at the detention center were those arrested allowed to make their first phone call of the morning, looking for a friend or family member able to post the required bond, which ranged from $1,000 - $25,000.
“I’m sure this isn’t what most of them thought they would be doing this morning,” remarked Kentucky State Police Trooper Chip Perry as he watched suspects in pajama pants, shorts and camouflage clothing as they were escorted from marked police cars to the armory’s makeshift holding facility.
The road to arrest
Operation Roundup was the culmination of 18 months of undercover investigations.
Of those the police attempted to arrest last week, only four were wanted for misdemeanor charges of trafficking in marijuana under 8 ounces. The remainder were alleged to have violated felony drug trafficking laws, including four minors, one of whom police claim sold heroin on multiple occasions.
During the arrests, one vehicle, allegedly used in the commission of a drug crime, was seized and three subjects were found in possession of additional drugs, resulting in more charges.
One man, Luke D. Green, 33, of Carrollton, was not included in the indictments, however was charged after officers found him to be in possession of drug paraphernalia at a residence where they sought to take another man into custody.
In a few cases, according to KSP Trooper Dave Roberts, children were in the homes when police arrived to make the arrests. However in all of these instances, an adult not under indictment was also there and Child Protective Service workers were not immediately called.
From prescription narcotics to marijuana, cocaine and heroin, each of the nearly five-dozen people indicted in Trimble, Carroll, Owen, Gallatin, Henry and Oldham counties allegedly sold the drugs to informants or undercover officers at least twice. And most of these “controlled buys,” according to KSP Detective Vic Hubbuch, were recorded by audio or video surveillance.
“We have multiple buys with each to substantiate the cases a little bit more,” Roberts said last week, adding that multiple buys show a pattern and can dispute allegations that the drug deal was an isolated incident.
“These men and women need to realize they don’t know who to trust. We have friends turning in friends, we have family members arrested together today,” Perry said. “You may think you know who you’re selling to, but it might be one of us.”
Hubbuch credits the hard work of two full-time KSP officers who work in the street level narcotics unit and tend to “think outside the box” with obtaining the evidence needed for the indictments.
“None of this could have happened without their self-motivation to get the job done,” he said.
Additionally, he and Trimble County Sheriff Tim Coons point to the cooperation shown by multiple agencies as the key to Thursday’s smooth sweep.
“The amount of effort the departments put in was key to us. It makes it apparent, here we are and we want to do something about [drugs]. Everyone worked well together and we really owe a lot to the [Kentucky] National Guard for allowing us use of their [facility].”
“This has been a long operation beginning to end,” Coons added. “To have something this big, five counties wide, you have to have agencies willing to come together. And we had that.”
Assisting the Kentucky State Police in Operation Roundup were KSP-Commercial Vehicle Enforcement; Henry, Trimble, Carroll, Owen and Gallatin county sheriff’s offices; Carrollton Police Department; Owenton Police Department; Indiana State Police; Madison Police Department; Carroll County Regional Detention Center and the Kentucky National Guard.
In all, 47 suspects were nabbed Nov. 14, with two more captured the following day. Police continue to search for 18 suspected drug dealers who remain at large.