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Knox County Drug Round-Up Could Lead To More Than 30 People In Jail

By: Amanda Price Email
By: Amanda Price Email

Police are waging another battle in the war on drugs.

Police went after more than 30 suspected drug dealers during a round up in Knox County Saturday.

UNITE officials say drugs are a plague to eastern Kentucky.

“The drug trafficker is the worst in this plague, these people have to quit selling their medicines whether they legally obtained them or not,” says Dan Smoot of Operation UNITE.

“It's your typical rural eastern Kentucky county. It's a nice area to live, but there's also a drug problem,” says P.J. Burnett of Kentucky State Police.

Operation UNITE decided to switch up their tactics in their fight against drugs. This time, it was the middle of a Saturday afternoon when they decided to strike. They were hoping to catch up with most of the 31 suspected dealers they had warrants for and maybe even a few others with outstanding warrants or people carrying illegal drugs.

“We're working with UNITE. They requested assistance in rounding up a lot of these individuals that they've purchased illegal drugs from,” says Burnett.

“Each county per se has a drug of choice, in this county, oxycontin is the drug of choice,” says Smoot.

Although not all were arrested for pills, UNITE says many of the dealers are users themselves.

“You use to have the excuse ‘you couldn't afford treatment’. Well, UNITE will send you to treatment through the voucher program for free, so there is no excuses left not to seek treatment. The majority of these people that sell medications have a drug problem themselves,” says Smoot.

For accused drug dealers, UNITE officials say arresting them is only the first step. The next step is education and treatment.

“Enforcement, education and treatment. It's going to take communities pulling together to send that message that they will no longer tolerate drug dealing in the community,” says Smoot.

They're hoping by enforcing the laws they'll be making the county a little safer, one arrest at a time.

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Those arrested in connection with the weekend roundup are:

• John Henry Baker, age 72, Coalport Road, Artemus, second-degree trafficking a controlled substance, trafficking in marijuana less than 8 ounces and persistent felony offender.

• Kathy Williams Baker, age 41, Serenity Lane, Barbourville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Heather Cole, age 23, Highway 1527, Gray, two counts second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Mitzi Lynn Disney, age 45, Skyview Apartments, Barbourville, second-degree conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance.

• John Wesley Grubb, age 27, Spruce Street, Barbourville, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Ledford Hamilton III, age 27, John Carter Hollow Road, Artemus, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Paul Hubbard, age 47, Highway 1304, Barbourville, two counts second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and two counts trafficking in marijuana less than 8 ounces.

• Ashley Jones, age 25, Nan Duff Road, Kinkle, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, and two counts first-degree conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance.

• Travis Dewayne Marcum, age 22, Nan Duff Road, Hinkle, two counts first-degree conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance and one count first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Tommy Marsee, age 40, Serenity Lane, Barbourville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and one count second-degree.

• Leonard Messer, age 48, Skyview Apartments, Barbourville, second-degree conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance.

• Dean Smith, age 46, Coalport Road, Artemus, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, and third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Brian K. Simpson, age 40, Highway 225, Artemus, is currently in jail on unrelated charges and will be charged Monday with two counts second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.

• Jerry Allen Simpson, age 34, Highway 225, Artemus, third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.

• Michael Lee Smith, age 43, Coalport Road, Artemus, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Rondal P. Whitman, age 52, Jenny Lane, Corbin, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

Last week, a suspect wanted from the August 25 roundup turned himself in to police:

• Earnest Alfred Collins Jr., age 32, Coalport Road, Artemus, two counts second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

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


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