HARRODSBURG - Law enforcement conducted a sweeping roundup of drug offenders Tuesday that so far has netted 19 people in Mercer County.
Sheriff Ernie Kelty said officers from his agency and Harrodsburg and Burgin police departments got an early start, executing warrants stemming from 34 sealed indictments on drug-trafficking charges. The raids started about 5 a.m., and all those arrested were in custody by 10 a.m.
After police spent Monday night and early Tuesday watching each location and gathering information about who likely would be present during the raids, teams of four converged. Kelty praised the officers for preparation resulting in a relatively smooth operation that concluded without incident.
The drugs involved varied widely and included prescription pills, such as Oxycontin, Lortab and Percocet, as well as cocaine and methamphetamine.
According to Kelty, more arrests are expected on the remaining indictments, some of which could be unsealed in the coming weeks if the suspects are not located. He said the investigation is part of a larger effort to bring down drug traffickers.
“This is just the start,” Kelty said.
The investigation started in January and at various times included collaboration with state police, as well as the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Kelty said tips received from law enforcement in Boyle and Anderson counties also helped make several cases.
Marijuana plants were confiscated from one of the locations, and a stolen vehicle was seized at another.
Kelty said the roundup made a dent in drug dealing across the entire county, but even as suspects waited to be booked Tuesday many of them told him they expected to benefit from more lenient state drug laws and there would be plenty of others to take their place while they were off the street.
"I had people tell me I’m chasing my tail," Kelty said. "My response to that is that I am not going to give up this fight. We have to fight the drug problem every day. I have a zero tolerance for it, and we are going to continue to investigate the tips we get and stay focused on tracking them down."
Arrests Tuesday for first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance included:
Travis Helton, 26; Eric Litteral, 37; Jacklynne Moore, 21; Jessica Meredith, 32; James Meredith, 35; Anthony Diaz, 39; Harold Partin, 32; Randell Derousse, 29; Carl Helton, 30; Samuel Francis, 33; Adam Stratton, 31; Jonathon Bowman, 24; William Edwards, 52; Cassidy Moore, 28; Eugene Marquart, 53; and Derek Patrick, 30, all of Harrodsburg.
Others arrested in the roundup include: Barbara Tyson, 62, of Harrodsburg, third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance; Wesley Simpson, 29, of Harrodsburg, two counts of trafficking in a simulated controlled substance; and William Spurlock of Harrodsburg, on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court.