Det. Trint Combs, a five-year veteran of UNITE, who twice won that agency’s “Detective of the Year” award, returned to Prestonsburg in September to head up a drug unit that he says has made great progress in that time.
Combs, a former city officer with the department, said his decision to leave the UNITE task force and return to the Prestonsburg City Police Department, came at an adequate time period for the city.
The same month Combs returned to the city force, a pain clinic, an establishment seen more and more in Prestonsburg and throughout the region and county, opened shop in an empty building beside the new Arby’s restaurant.
Within weeks, Combs and others at the department begin doing regular surveillance at the establishment, actually making three arrests in the parking lot of the business the day before the tenants moved their location to Auxier.
“This happened on Thursday, and Friday the clinic left the location,” Combs said. “They had received an eviction notice before we did this and so they moved. But they haven’t moved far enough for our tastes.”
Combs said the philosophy behind the Prestonsburg Drug Unit is a simple one.
“We’re going to have a zero-tolerance policy on narcotics in this city,” continued Combs. “And we’re also going to be looking at any activity that is coming into the city from other parts of the county.”
In the six months since Combs returned to the city upon the request of Mayor Jerry Fannin, there have been 28 criminal arrests related to drugs, with 94 charges totaling from those arrests. Most of those, according to Combs, have been related to drug possession.
However, of the 32 cases opened in that six months, many of which are still ongoing, more than 20 of those are trafficking cases.
Combs, who spent much of his five years with UNITE working undercover, said there have been 20 controlled buys take place in the city, coupled with 10 surveillance operations undertaken. The take from these efforts has been 1,591 pills seized during that time and $8,891 taken from suspected drug buyers or dealers.
In addition to these numbers, Combs said there have been 35 searches performed in the city since September.
Combs said his time spent with UNITE has proven invaluable in his new duties overseeing the drug unit.
“The five years I spent with UNITE was a five-year education that I have carried over to this job.”
For Combs, who said that less than three years ago he “had a mullet” as an undercover agent, the problem with drugs is paramount in his daily approach to his job.
“I live, breathe and eat this,” he said. “And I’ve had a lot of freedom within this department to basically draft members of the department for things we need to do. It’s become one of our top priorities.”
Though the pain clinic, which was located less than a mile from Prestonsburg High School, has changed locations, neither Combs or the local sheriff’s department have forgotten the importance of watching the activity at the new location.
Combs said undercover operations are currently underway at the Auxier location, which is near Highlands Regional Medical Center, while Floyd County Sheriff John K Blackburn said he has increased patrol of the Auxier area and also included one undercover officer at the location.
“Down there around that hospital is a little pill mill community,” Combs said.