Of those 25, 17 individuals who police are saying were involved in distributing drugs across the county and elsewhere were behind bars as of early Monday evening. The roundup started before dawn Monday.
Blackburn, who was recently sworn in for his fourth term as the county’s sheriff, has maintained a solid stance against combatting drugs, reaching as far back as decades ago when marijuana was still the biggest problem facing law enforcement.
Now that problem is primarily prescription drugs and the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine.
Blackburn said Monday, and has said in the past, that with each roundup there’s another arm of the drug dealing faction taken off the streets, but that with the distribution of prescription drugs, it has always seemed like one step forward and two steps back because many individuals are obtaining the prescriptions legally and then turning around and selling them.
In May 2009, Blackburn spoke of the problem at length saying over the past 12 years he had watched the “new fad” of prescription drug abuse become a “full-blown epidemic.” He said then that over the past several years, his investigators had reported as many as 300 controlled buys of prescription drugs from more than 160 people, adding that, at that time, nearly 50 percent of all cases handled by his office were drug-related, ranging from domestic violence cases to theft and fraud.
Blackburn said Tuesday that calls coming in from a concerned public about possible drug activity continue to be a great help as his department and others go about the task of investigating the tips.
“We’d still like the calls to come in from people about drug dealing,” Blackburn said. “We can’t make an arrest right then, when they call, but we can start investigating it then and that could lead to arrests.”
Monday, officers rounded up 25 suspects over the course of the morning and afternoon, spanning various areas of the county including Tram, Betsy Layne, Harold, Allen and Wheel-wright. The 17 drug-related arrests and the remaining of the 25 on charges of theft and burglary.
Blackburn admitted during Monday’s efforts that at times it seemed an uphill battle.
“It seems like they go from town to town, state to state and just keep on bringing drugs back,” he said Monday. “It’s hard to fight.”
In Wheelwright, four of the 25 were taken into custody, including two for theft charges. Police Chief Randy Johnson spoke to media Monday, saying fighting the problem was a resources problem for the city and he was thankful for the city’s help.
“We’ve had several young people that have died up there, and maybe we’ve saved somebody from dying,” Johnson told WYMT in a brief statement.
Blackburn says his department will simply continue to fight against the growing problem as the years pass, hoping to eventually put a stop to the trend entirely.
The following 17 Floyd County residents were arrested on drug charges during the roundup Monday, though not all information on their ages and locations were on hand as of press time: