Undercover Operation In Marion County Nets 24 On Drug Charges

Reported by: Webb Wright
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Updated: 12/12/2013 7:14 pm
         It started with 14 months of hard work, an undercover operation by the Marion County Sheriff's department has come to an end, with 24 indictments and 18 arrests on drug related charges.
         "The thing that I liked about this operation is we didn't concentrate on one part of the county. We covered three different locations. It took a lot of career criminals off the street," says Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett.
        The operation netted arrests in Jasper, Whitwell, and South Pittsburg. Officials say the drug problem is not isolated to one type of drug.
        "We have a big problem with the pills here in Marion County, and marijuana is still popular and meth is a big problem, so people arrested today were all involved in either selling it or manufacturing or even 8 of the people were charged with conspiracy. That all goes back to meth," says Burnett.
         All 24 suspects have been arrested before on a variety of charges.
         "Everyone of them have been through the system. We have to deal with the same people over and over again, and a lot of these people they don't only sell drugs they commit other crimes, domestic assault, thefts," says Burnett.
          The revolving door of arrests is a source of frustration of law enforcement officials.
          "My jail is full now and every jail is full. I guess if the courts were harsher I don't know what I'd do to put them. It does get frustrating with everybody, not just the police officers, but the D.A.s office the judges that have to see these people over and over again," says Burnett.
           "It's like a chess match. They'll move in one neighborhood or one county and the neighbors start calling. You start getting complaints over the phone, you start watching it and you give it to the detectives and they work the case," says South Pittsburg Chief of Police Dale Winters.
            It's a chess match that officials say they expect to win.
            "You ain't going to stop it but you can slow it down, put the word out on the street, you may get away with it the first time but we are going to be knocking on your door," says Winters.
            "If you are in the drug selling business you need to get out," adds Burnett
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