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.
After the roundup, London police and Laurel County Sheriff’s officers visited residences based on complaints to the Drug Tip Line and discovered an inactive meth lab at a home on Clearview Road. Charges are pending in that case, according to a press release. Laurel County Sheriff Fred Yaden said three arrests were made during the afternoon follow up.
“It turned out to be a pretty good day as far as arrests good,” Yaden said.
“This has been several months in the planning stages,” said Yaden, who praised the joint efforts of the agencies involved in the round up.
He also said the sheriff’s office is continuing to fight drug activity in Laurel County.
“This doesn’t mean it’s over. The warrants are still good,” he said. “It’s not over by any means.”
As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, those arrested and sent to Laurel County Detention Center included:
• Albert Abner, age 37, Bert Allen Road, London, manufacturing methamphetamine, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine precursors.
• Mary Mills Brooks, age 32, Pepper Hill Apartments, London, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
• Brandon Burkhart, age 20, North Highway 421, Manchester (Clay County), second-degree possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana.
• Lucy Cotton, age 32, Bert Allen Road, London, manufacturing methamphetamine, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine precursors.
• Thomas Earley, age 47, Earley Lane, London, first-degree possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana.
• David Goldsberry, age 49, Star Hill Road, London, trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school and trafficking in marijuana less than 8 ounces.
• Alex Hoskins, age 42, Moriah Church Road, London, trafficking in marijuana less than 8 ounces (second offense) and trafficking in a Legend drug.
• James Jent, age 32, Little County Road, East Bernstadt, first-degree possession of a controlled substance.
• Rachel Jones, age 47, Star Hill Road, London, third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (second offense) and trafficking in marijuana less than 8 ounces (second offense).
• Chris Ledington, age 37, Northside Plaza, Corbin, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Denzil Lewis, age 60, Highway 490, East Bernstadt, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Richard Lewis, age 59, Robert E. Cox Road, Corbin, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and first-degree conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance.
• Barbara Maggard, age 46, Star Hill Road, London, trafficking in marijuana less than 8 ounces.
• Billie Maggard, age 55, Riverbend Road, London, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
• Larry Sheperd, age 40, Felts School Apartments, Corbin, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and two counts first-degree possession of a controlled substance.
• Jimmy Slone, age 39, Highway 490, East Bernstadt, trafficking in marijuana less than 8 ounces. Additional charges are pending.
• Michael Sultz, age 22, Camden Road, Ferndale, Michigan, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and unlawful possession of methamphetamine precursors.
• Janet Wagner, age 49, Johnson Road, London, possession of marijuana.
• Brian Williams, age 40, Riverbend Road, London, manufacturing methamphetamine and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
Anyone with information on drug related activities can report tips to the Drug Tip Line at 1-866-424-4382 or local law enforcement.
Samantha Swindler can be reached at sswindler@the
By Samantha Swindler / Managing Editor
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