NEWBERRY — A two-year drug investigation involving nine local and state law enforcement agencies culminated Thursday morning in a major drug operation.
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said officers obtained more than 100 arrest warrants on 45 suspects.
Charges included trafficking heroin, trafficking crack cocaine, distribution of heroin, distribution of crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin, and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine as well as charges for attempting to obtain a controlled substance related to those attempting to manufacture methamphetamine.
“In 1989 Sheriff Foster and I committed to have a partnership to combat crime and we have had a great working relationship since that time,” Newberry Police Chief Jackie Swindler said. “This operation and the many like it in the past are an example of the impact that law enforcement cooperation with each other and the community can make when we chose to work together rather than fighting against each other.
“Every citizen of Newberry County whether in the city limits are outside is fortunate to have law enforcement agencies that work so closely together,” he added. “You often take for granted what you have and not every jurisdiction enjoys such a relationship. We are all better for the partnerships that have been forged and maintained in Newberry County.”
Foster said the public needs to understand that the sale and use of drugs affects communities.
“Much of this investigation came from complaints for citizens who want safe, drug free communities and law enforcement in Newberry County has committed to be partners to make our communities great, safe places to live,” he said.
Foster said that it was also important to point out that many of those sought are repeat offenders. Five of the people charged are charged with third offense distribution of crack cocaine and six are charged with distribution of crack cocaine, second offense.
Many of the suspects are charged with multiple counts of distribution.
“We as a society have created an environment where we do not diligently deal with the use and sale of illegal drugs,” said Foster. “We label it a victimless crime. I challenge you to try to make a burglary victim feel safe in their own home again, go through a neighborhood where gunshots ring out at night, or try console the parents of drug addicted parents. You tell those people that drugs are a victimless crime.”
Foster also said the investigation shows a resurgence of heroin in this area.
A person usually becomes addicted to a prescription drug of some type and turns to the opiate-based heroin when they can’t get the prescription drug they want.
On the streets an OxyContin pill costs from $40 to $80, but a dose of heroin is $10 to $20.
In a concurrent operation, 20 people were arrested and charged with attempting to possess a controlled substance for trying to illegally obtain Sudafed to make methamphetamine.
Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Newberry Police Department, S.C. Law Enforcement Division, S.C. Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole, Prosperity Police Department, Whitmire Police Department, Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, and Laurens County Sheriff’s Office were involved.
The operation will continue over the weekend. The investigation will be ongoing.