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Drug Roundup, School Presentation Set Stage For Leslie County March & Rally

By: Michael Phillips Email
By: Michael Phillips Email

HYDEN – While law enforcement officers were attempting to arrest more than three dozen drug dealers Friday morning, students at Leslie County High School learned that help and hope are available for those facing substance abuse issues.

Both events set the stage for the county’s second community march and rally against drugs, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 7, in downtown Hyden.

“Every person in every county is impacted in some way by drug abuse,” said Karen Engle, UNITE president/CEO. “For far too many families, drugs exact a heavy personal toll. By uniting together to seek solutions to shared problems, this madness can be stopped.”

“The task is not easy,” Engle continued. “Change won’t be realized by one single event and can’t occur overnight. But at some point citizens must stand up and say ‘Enough’.”

One example of how pervasive the drug problem had become in Leslie County came with the arrest of two individuals who had been opening dealing drugs from a home adjacent to City Hall, noted Mike Luttrell, manager of UNITE’s Kentucky River Drug Task Force.

Most of the drugs sold by the suspects during the seven-month undercover investigation involved OxyContin, cocaine and Methadone.

“We are continuing to investigate drug-dealing complaints in Leslie County,” Luttrell stated. “There will be additional arrests in the coming months.”

More than two dozen law enforcement personnel participated in the roundup. Assisting UNITE detectives were officers from the Leslie County Sheriff’s Office, Hyden Police Department, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement and Kentucky State Police.

As these arrests were taking place, UNITE Law Enforcement Director Dan Smoot and Lifeline counselor Steve Collett spoke to students at Leslie County High School.

Collett, who runs jail ministries in Leslie and Clay counties, recounted the horror of his drug-addicted life and time spent in and out of jails. He stressed that students choose the right friends, because who you hang out with can greatly influence your decisions.

Smoot encouraged students and staff to become part of their school’s anti-drug UNITE Club, the Leslie County Drug Abuse Council (a UNITE coalition), and show their support for change by participating in Sunday’s march and rally.

The roughly one-mile march begins at 2 p.m. from the new parking structure on Maple Street in downtown Hyden and will conclude with a rally in front of the Leslie County Courthouse. All churches, youth groups, UNITE Clubs, government officials,, business owners, civic groups and other concerned citizens are encouraged to participate.

“We will have information available about four upcoming informational/training sessions,” Engle stated. These sessions will discuss the Hooked On Fishing-Not On Drugs mentoring program; inform citizens about methamphetamine, what to look for, and its effects on individuals; the Court Watch monitoring initiative; and how to set up an effective Neighbors UNITED program.

“If you are tired of illegal drug activity taking place around your homes and businesses, if you are tired of being frightened for your children’s safety, it’s time to take back your community by becoming part of the solution,” Engle said. “These programs have proven to be successful in other communities, and certainly can make a difference in Leslie County.”

As of 3 p.m. police had arrested 27 of the wanted suspects. Those charged and lodged in the Clay County Detention Center were:

• Andrew Asher, age 22, Hyden, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Matthew Asher, age 25, Hyden, three counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Glen Baker, age 48, Lewis Hollow Road, Yeaddiss, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Tony Baker, age 24, Beatty Road, Wooten, three counts second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Rachel Boggs, age 26, Hendrix Branch Road, Yeaddiss, first-degree possession of a controlled substance.

• Jeff Bowling, age 40, Purple Maring Lane, Hyden, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Lavonna Sue Caldwell, age 49, Highway 421, Hyden, one count first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and one count second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Gary Wade Collett, age 46, Muncy Creek, Stinnett, three counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Gary Douglas, age 24, Highway 421, Hyden, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Imagene Eversole, age 58, Bear Branch, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Connie Foster, no age available, Bear Branch, Bob’s Fork, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Joe Hamilton, age 30, Wolf Creek Road, Yeaddiss, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Cynthia Hanninen, age 26, Lewis Hollow Road, Yeaddiss, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Doug Harris, age 48, Big Rock Road, Yeaddiss, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Dan Hoskins, age 54, Muncy Creek, Stinnett, three counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Dwayne Johnson, age 29, Camp Creek, Windover, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Eugene Johnson, age 25, Hurts Creek, Wooten, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Joyce Lewis, age 27, Wooten, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Shonda Lewis, age 34, Knob Lick, Stinnett, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Stanley Lewis, age 37, Gardinia Drive, Wooten, three counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Shellane Madden, age 46, Spring Drive, Wooten, two counts second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Jim Miniard, no age available, Wolf Creek, Yeaddiss, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Tim Pilkin, age 21, Highway 699, Leatherwood (Perry County), second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Norma Rader, Thousand Sticks, Hyden, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Juanita Sizemore, age 59, Purple Maring Lane, Hyden, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Sheila Trent, age 44, Trace Fork Road, Yeaddiss, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance. An additional charge of possession of marijuana is expected.

• Floyd Thomas, age 45, Wolf Creek, Yeaddiss, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org.


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