31 arrested in massive drug roundup - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

31 arrested in massive drug roundup

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LINCOLNTON, NC (WBTV) - Law enforcement officers have arrested 31 people this week in a massive drug roundup initiated by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies fanned out Wednesday at 6 a.m. looking for suspects named in 50 indictments handed down by the Grand Jury last month. They dubbed the drug roundup "Operation Rolling 50."

Twenty-six people were arrested during the multi-agency operation on Wednesday. Five more were arrested Thursday and Friday. 

The indictments came after a six-month undercover operations where authorities say their officers made drug buys from the suspects.

Some of those indicted were arrested last week, but others who were considered high-risk by authorities were left until Wednesday morning when extra help was available.

The special weapons team from Catawba County joined the effort on Wednesday as well as several deputies from the Iredell County Sheriff's office.

It was still dark when the Lincoln SWAT team broke down a door and arrested two people near Denver. The suspects, a man and a woman, were led to patrol cars in their pajamas.

The goal was to catch them asleep "and not expecting our arrival," said Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter.

The sheriff said hitting the homes in that way was safer for the suspects and the officers.

All of the people arrested were taken to the magistrate's office and then transported to the Lincoln County Detention Center.

The only problem, said officials, is that the detention center is overcrowded.

The facility, which was built for 168 inmates, was already holding 175 before the drug suspect roundup began.

"Yeah, we are over capacity," said First Sgt. Veda Reid.

Officials are hoping the courts will clear out some of cases of other inmates to help make room for the new arrivals, but say they are determined to make room for whoever they need to.

"Some may have to sleep on the floor," said Veda.

As for the charges against all the suspects, one undercover officer said in many cases it dealt with prescription drugs.

They would go to a pain clinic in Florida, and pick up 200 or 300 pain pills, then come back here and sell them to an undercover officer, then take the currency they received and buy other drugs such as crack cocaine.

The officer said that appears to be a growing problem, not just in Lincoln County, but across the Carolinas.

Authorities say they will keep looking for the remaining suspects, and they are confident that within a matter of days, all will be found.

"We will get them," said Carpenter.

Agencies assisting with the drug roundup include Catawba and Iredell County Sheriff's Offices, Lincolnton, Newton, Maiden, Gastonia, Gaston County and Hickory Police Departments, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and U.S. Customs.

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