, Corbin, KY

December 29, 2012

Suspects wanted in drug roundup

By John L. Ross
The Times-Tribune

WHITLEY COUNTY — December’s “Operation Christmas Spirit” drug roundup may have ended, but the pursuit of wanted suspects related to the roundup continues, according to Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell.

“We’re looking for three particular individuals right now,” he said.

He added the sheriff’s department seeks help from the public in locating the three suspects.

Matthew D. Johnson, 38, has outstanding warrants for him charging first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

He is a blue-eyed white male, approximately 6 feet tall, weighing 300 pounds.

Deputies also seek his girlfriend, Tonya Estep. She is wanted for first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance. Harrell had no further information on her.

The third party sought by deputies is 32-year-old James O. Roberts. Roberts has a warrant out for second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

He is a green-eyed white male, 6 foot, 1 inch tall, weighing approximately 245 pounds.

Harrell said anyone with any information on any of these three suspects should contact the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department office at 606-549-6006.

Operation Christmas Spirit brought charges to 19 people Dec. 14, 17 of which were arrested that day. Another suspect sought by deputies was caught a few days later, bringing the total arrested through Operation Christmas Spirit to 20.

“We have been investigating these suspects for several months,” Harrell said earlier this month. “Most of these investigations began through a complaint made from the public.”

Harrell said the sheriff’s department received assistance from Operation UNITE, which, according to its website, works to rid communities of illegal drug use through undercover narcotics investigations, coordinating treatment for substance abusers, providing support to families and friends of substance abusers, and educating the public about the dangers of using drugs. UNITE serves the 29 counties of Kentucky’s Fifth District, which includes Whitley, Knox and Laurel counties.

“(We) have to give credit to UNITE,” Harrell said. “They really, really helped us quite a lot in this thing.”

Harrell said all suspects sought were shown on video or heard through audio during undercover drug purchases.