A new Operation UNITE effort to reclaim drug infested neighborhoods reached into the western Perry County community of Busy on Thursday, October 5.
Just before 2 p.m., several dozen law enforcement officers from five agencies descended upon the area off KY 451 armed with arrest warrants for 15 suspected drug dealers and search warrants for three properties.
Within a few hours, 11 of those sought had been arrested, a fugitive taken into custody, and two others cited for possession of marijuana. Most of the arrests were related to the illegal sale of Methadone.
The initiative, known as Operation Hot Spot, seeks first to eliminate drug dealers then give community members tools and information they need to keep their neighborhoods drug free.
A community meeting to discuss concerns and rally residents together will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, October 20, at Willard Elementary School on Big Willard Road in Busy.
"Residents had become fed up with all this illegal drug activity in their neighborhood," said Dan Smoot, UNITE's Director of Law Enforcement. "There was so much traffic in this area that it was even causing problems for school buses and parents at the school."
"Giving youth an opportunity to grow up in a safe, drug-free environment is one of the main reasons for this whole initiative," said Paul Hays, UNITE' s Deputy Director of Law Enforcement. "We hope school officials, churches, and others in the Busy community will spread the word and attend the community meeting."
After gathering for a briefing at the Rural Law Enforcement Technology Center, officers swiftly and simultaneously descended upon several locations in the Busy/Yerkes area, including an area bar. Participating with UNITE in the joint operation were members of the Hazard Police Department (including their K-9 unit), the Perry County Sheriff's Office, Kentucky State Police, and Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement.
Search warrants were executed on three homes on Whitey Lane off Snatch Creek Road. The problem had become so pervasive that at least four vehicles drove up while officers were executing the search warrants.
"One of the drivers admitted she was there to purchase Xanax, but was allowed to leave after no drugs were found in her car," Smoot said. "We did issue citations for possession of marijuana to two other women after several small bags of marijuana were confiscated from their vehicle."
Following a search at the home of Clonnie Lyn Caudill, UNITE detectives confiscated a small quantity of pills believed to be Xanax along with marijuana and cash believed to be proceeds from illegal drug sales, Smoot added.
This is the second time UNITE has utilized Operation Hot Spot. On July 14, law enforcement officers descended upon the Verda community of Harlan County, arresting 16 of 18 individuals and executing two search warrants.
Since July, the community has rallied in support of UNITE's anti-drug effort.
"Community members have expressed excitement to know their concerns had not gone unnoticed. They are empowered by the knowledge they now have an opportunity to clean up their community and once again make it a safe and enjoyable place in which to live and raise their families," said Karen Engle, UNITE's Executive Director.
"Operation UNITE will work with the Verda and Busy communities to implement a Neighbors UNITED program (similar to Neighborhood Watch), begin a Court Watch program, and identify how to keep their children from experimenting with drugs," Engle continued. "While much work remains, the first steps have been taken."
"We will continue to do whatever we can to help people in their communities fight these drug dealers, and together, we can reclaim the neighborhoods," Smoot said.
Arrested by Operation UNITE on drug-trafficking warrants Thursday were:
* Josh Baker, 21, Big Willard Road, Busy, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Jason Begley, 28, Whitey Lane, Busy, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Clonnie Lyn Caudill, 47, Whitey Lane, Busy, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Lester Lee Collins, 54, Coal Harbor Lane, Busy, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Katherine Calista Eversole, 27, Highway 451, Yerkes, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Lisa F. Gross, 44, Big Willard Road, Yerkes, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Charles Harrison “Chuck” Hamblin, 54, Big Willard Road, Yerkes, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Charles Harrison Hamblin, 24, Jess Fields Lane, Busy, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Billie R. Helton, Snatch Creek Road, Hazard, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Blue Jean Huff, 49, Highway 451, Busy, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
* Bobby Sturgill, Coal Harbor Lane, Busy, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
In addition to those above, the Perry County Sheriff's Office arrested 38 year old Joyce Eversole of Coal Harbor Lane, Busy, on bench warrants for 12 counts of failing to appear for theft by deception or possession of a forged instrument charges.
Those arrested were lodged in the Perry County Detention Center after being processed at the Rural Law Enforcement Technology Center in Hazard.
Also, UNITE issued citations for possession of marijuana to 29-year-old Sherry L. Deaton, of Red Bud Lane, Hazard, and 26-year-old Kelly A. Combs, of Slate Lick Road, London, after they drove up to the property on Whitey Lane as police were conducting searches of the residences.