25 Eastern Kentucky law enforcement agencies get a big financial boost thanks to drug dealers. Operation UNITE handed out more than $323,000 to help local law enforcement fight crime.
It was money taken from drug pushers who are now behind bars. Police say that money will now be used to help make more arrests in the war on drugs in the region.
Crime fighters from across Eastern Kentucky gathered Monday at the London Community Center to collect checks.
"To the pushers, I want to thank you for the money that you allowed us to get by arresting you," said Hazard Police Chief Ronnie Bryant.
Operation UNITE and other agencies have put 2,800 drug dealers behind bars in less than six years. By law, the money taken after those arrests can be turned into something positive for the community.
"Instead of lining this drug dealers pockets, it's now going to law enforcement used against the very drug dealers it came from," said Operation UNITE Director Karen Engle.
Congressman Hal Rogers believes the money can't go to a more deserving group.
"That are the ones really fighting the fight and as a support troop, which I consider myself, I'm very proud of the warfare these people are putting on under difficult circumstances," said Representative Rogers.
Officials say this money helps small cities without the tax base support their departments.
"A program such as these are a great, great help to local communities, small communities such as ours," added Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft.
Asset forfeiture money is split up among agencies who participate in drug busts with UNITE and is handed out every two years.
"Drug abuse always follows the path of least resistance and we all have to work together," said Engle.
Police call the money a powerful tool.
Operation UNITE also handed out several awards to Eastern Kentucky law enforcement agencies for their involvement with the anti-drug coalition.