The sun was shining brightly Tuesday morning, but it was a dreary beginning to the day for dozens of men and women caught up in the massive drug roundup law enforcement officers are calling “Operation November Rain.”
Officers from Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer County sheriff’s departments, Danville and Perryville police departments, Kentucky State Police and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency went after 120 suspects beginning early in the morning in the culmination of more than a year of work across the agencies.
Trooper Chris Lanham said investigations and undercover drug purchases led to sealed indictments for trafficking in cocaine — powder and crack — prescription drugs, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Among those in custody is Lincoln County Constable Kenny Hodge, who faces multiple drug trafficking charges. Hodge lost his seat in the general election last week to Jesse Harris. Hodge had been arrested earlier in the year for receiving stolen property, but those charges were dropped.
In all, there are 111 charges pending in Boyle, 20 in Mercer, 48 in Garrard, 14 in Lincoln, and 120 officers from the various agencies participated in the roundup. A majority of those taken into custody were brought to the National Guard Armory in Danville, where a large processing station was set up, while others were taken directly to the Lincoln County Jail.
Lanham said the large amount of property crime and suspected drug trafficking in the area, which is often linked, prompted the operation, which he said is the largest he has been involved with in 21 years.
In addition to controlled buys and confidential informants, Lanham said much of the information came from tips and complaints. He said it was possible that authorities could also glean even more useful leads during post-arrest interviews.
“Hopefully, people will see this and get more involved,” Lanham said. “We ask people to be patient during investigations after they come forward with information. We know who many of the dealers are, but it takes time to put cases like these together.”
Boyle County Sheriff Marty Elliott said 40 of the Boyle suspects already were in custody by 8:30 a.m. He said 30 of the targets were inside Danville alone.
Elliott said the department started gathering some of the information that set up the operation two years ago. He said the rise in home and car break-ins are directly related to some of the trafficking cases.
“During the last year, we have been doing (undercover) dope buys specifically targeted because of complaints we have received,” Elliott said. “Just about every time you interview someone in a burglary case they say they did it because of drugs.”
Elliott said there are some big fish being reeled in during the roundup who could face federal charges. While he said the operation would make a substantial impact on drug and other crime in the area, he acknowledged that the struggle is not over.
“It will dry up the drug activity for a while,” Elliott said. “It’s like throwing a pebble in a big pond. Narcotics is so tied up in everything.”
The year-long investigation into drug trafficking in Central Kentucky netted 83 suspects. Those arrested in Lincoln County were, Brian Bandy, 44, Hustonville, for Trafficking in Marijuana Over 8 Ounces, Trafficking in Marijuana Less than 8 Ounces, Kenneth Hodge, 55, Crab Orchard, for Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 2nd (Hydrocodone) and Possession of Marijuana, Danny Harris, 62, Stanford for Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 1st (Oxycodone), Richard Baker, 41, Stanford, Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 1st (4 Counts) (2nd Offense) (Cocaine) and Persistent Felony Offender, Ashley Hall, 26, Stanford, Complicity to Traffic in a Controlled Substance (Oxycodone), Commanche Robbins, 18, Stanford, for Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 1st (Oxycodone), Jimmy Owens, 40, Stanford, Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 1st (Cocaine), Roy Ashberry, 59, Stanford, for Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 1st (Cocaine).
Sheriff Curt Folger said that there are indictments for at least four more Lincoln County residents who could not be found during the sweep, but he expected more arrests shortly. Folger said that the sealed, grand jury indictments for some of the Lincoln suspects were generated through controlled buys of drugs.
“This was a case of good cooperation between the Sheriffs’ Departments, the Kentucky State Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency,” he said.
Michael Broihier also contributed to this report.
Four county drug sweep nets 83
Constable Ken Hodge charged with trafficking
Constable Ken Hodge (November 9, 2010)