PIKEVILLE – Two traffickers of prescription pain pills and their Florida supplier have been arrested on federal drug charges following an undercover investigation by Operation UNITE and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“More than 200,000 Oxycodone pills were sold in Pike County over the past 12 months by these individuals,” said Keith Napier, Big Sandy Task Force Manager for UNITE. “They were getting pills delivered on almost a monthly basis.”
“This is an unusual case not only due to the quantity of controlled substances involved, but the fact that Florida residents were delivering to Kentucky,” noted Dan Smoot, deputy director of UNITE . “We know that there are thousands of Eastern Kentucky residents going to Florida to purchase prescription pills, but in this investigation Florida was bringing the drugs to us.”
With a street value of approximately $40 per pill, the trafficking operation is estimated to have resulted in $8 million in illegal sales in the past year.
Earlier this month DEA agents arrested 32-year-old Jerrmaine St. Claire Littles of Clearwater, Florida, on a charge of conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone. He is currently being detained by federal officials in Florida.
The two Pike County distributors – 53-year-old Kenneth Gannon of Aflex Road in Aflex and 42-year-old Russell West of Six Camp Road in McVeigh – were picked up Tuesday, May 22 at their homes, by UNITE detectives, DEA agents from the London Field Office, and Kentucky State Police troopers from Post 9 in Pikeville.
“Both UNITE and the DEA had received numerous anonymous tips from citizens alerting us to the illegal drug trafficking activity in the Belfrey area,” Smoot stated.
As a result of the tips, police initiated a joint investigation that resulted in undercover drug buys and several search warrants during the last six months. More than 1,000 pills and “thousands of dollars” in cash were seized.
Both Gannon and West were lodged in the Pike County Detention Center.
“The DEA’s commitment to East Kentucky has made it possible to identify not only the street dealers but also the mid and upper level suppliers,” Smoot said. “We hope this continued partnership will result in many more investigations of this type.”
For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org