TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

October 24, 2007

Drug Roundup

By Samantha Swindler / Managing Editor

The latest Operation UNITE drug roundup on Tuesday netted approximately one pound of marijuana, one methamphetamine lab and 20 arrests for drug-related charges in Corbin and Laurel County.

About 30 officers were involved in the roundup, including those from Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, Kentucky State Police, London Police, Laurel County Sheriff’s Department and UNITE.

Several teams of officers spread out across Laurel County, from East Bernstadt to Corbin, with 34 warrants for a variety of drug-related charges.

Joel Cunigan, task force commander for Cumberland Valley UNITE, said the arrests are the result of six months to a year of investigations. Most of the arrests were for sale of marijuana, possession or sale of methamphetamine, and the prescription drugs OxyContin, Hydrocodone and Xanax.

“In the entire 29 counties (covered by UNITE), where we see the most methamphetamine is Laurel, Clay and Jackson,” Cunigan said. “It’s where people know how to cook it … You get a lot of people teaching other people.”

Officials credited MethCheck, a program piloted by UNITE in Laurel County, in developing 15 of the arrests. MethCheck electronically monitors the sale of ingredients used in the manufacture of methamphetamine and is used in 14 of the 19 pharmacies in Laurel County. Senate Bill 88, passed earlier this year by the General Assembly, will eventually link all Kentucky pharmacies to a statewide database that will electronically track pseudoephedrine sales.

Cunigan said because of programs like MethCheck, “what we’re seeing is not as many large labs, but the smaller quantities made.”

Sixteen of the 34 people for whom officers had warrants were arrested – nine of those were arrested in Laurel Circuit Court on Friday after the indictments were returned. Ten were arrested in Tuesday’s sweep, but not all of them were on the original warrant list, and one turned himself in Tuesday afternoon.

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