EAST POINT — Some Floyd Countians may be spending Christmas behind bars, after a task force of Operation UNITE officers and deputies from the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department rounded up suspected drug dealers on Tuesday.
According to Sheriff John K Blackburn, the group was working to execute 17 warrants in Floyd County, though three of those men were reportedly already behind bars for unrelated charges.
“We’ve got around 20 warrants today,” said Blackburn. “Methadone, hydrocodone, Oxycontin — it all boils down to the same ol’-same ol’.”
“We’ve arrested hundreds and hundreds of drug dealers and this is just 20 more,” said Sheriff Blackburn.
On George’s Branch, in northern Floyd County, officers found more than 14 people living in a single home when they arrived to execute their warrant for Eugene Arms. Arms was arrested on a single count of first-degree drug trafficking.
This latest roundup also had a particularly long reach, as one Somerset resident was caught in its net.
Larry Ellison, 26, of Poplar Estates in Somerset, will be served with warrants for promoting contraband and second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance. He is currently lodged in the Pulaski County Detention Center on unrelated charges.
About eight months ago, the staff at Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright had received information that drugs were being sent to an inmate and asked UNITE detectives to investigate, said Dan Smoot, deputy director of UNITE.
The investigation led to the interception of a package containing Suboxone hidden inside materials mailed from Ellison to one of his relatives, said Smoot, adding it is believed that other types of drugs had been previously sent.
Officials with UNITE say they still have warrants left to serve, including at least four people who currently live in other counties.
By 2:30 p.m., police had arrested eight other people, including:
• George Adkins, 63, Route 3379, Grethel, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, two counts second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, and persistent felony offender.
• Joshua Blanton, 24, Myrtle Branch, Prestonsburg, cultivating of marijuana (30 plants).
• Donna Case, 51, Little Mud, Harold, one count each second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Finley Case, 45, Little Mud, Harold, one count each second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Ronald Gayheart, 59, Middle Branch, McDowell, one count first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, two counts possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, and two counts possession of a shotgun by a convicted felon.
• Anthony Gunnels, 37, River Pass Road, Harold, three counts second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Randall Ratliff, 37, Big Branch Hollow Road, Honaker, one count second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Tracy Risner, 23, Madison Avenue, Prestonsburg, one count second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
Later in the day, police reported also arresting Ricky Crider and Gary Butcher, but did not provide any additional information about those two suspects.
According to Blackburn, the investigation lasted for more than six months and is tied to the various pipelines running into the state from Florida, Georgia and Michigan.
Blackburn says that the roundup is a “very sad” job to do around the holidays, but said that the number of people wanting to sell illegal drugs goes up during the Christmas season.