At least four dozen people were arrested in a warrant sweep targeting alleged drug offenders in Jackson County.
Police began knocking on doors before dawn Thursday. Jackson Sheriff Tony Boggs estimated at least 48 people had been arrested by Thursday afternoon. He said investigators still had arrest warrants for a few more people.
Officers working in the newly formed Jackson County Bureau of Investigation have been investigating several individuals around the county in relation to drug activity in the area for the last few months, Boggs said. Warrants were obtained this week on drug charges ranging from conspiracy to delivery of a controlled substance.
Not all of the warrants served Thursday were for drug related offenses, Boggs said. Some were other charges such as truancy and failure to pay child support.
A large number of the drug offenses involved heroin, he said. While the investigation unit, which is made up of officers from the sheriff’s office, Ripley police and Ravenswood police, made arrests all over the county, Boggs said officers arrested a few more out of the Ravenswood area than anywhere else.
“I don’t think Ravenswood is any different than any other town in the United States including the major heroin problem,” said Lance Morrison, Ravenswood police chief.
Morrison said officers made 87 heroin related arrests from January to July 2014 in the 4,000 resident town. Officers have taken black tar and powder versions of the drug off the streets, he said. The chief said he believes the majority of the heroin is coming into Ravenswood from Ohio via U.S. 33.
He praised the work of the joint agency investigation unit. Ravenswood has about eight patrol officers in addition to Morrison, who also patrols the town. Officers in Meigs County, Ohio, which is directly across the Ohio River from Ravenswood, also participated in Thursday’s sweep.
“If it wasn’t for that, this would have been a lot harder,” Morrison said of the Jackson County Bureau of Investigation. “The cooperation in this task force is unbelievable.”
Boggs said there had been good cooperation in the group and that a large amount of information was being shared between agencies. Morrison likened it to each agency sometimes having a different piece of a puzzle and said it was beneficial to each of the agencies involved.
The joint investigation unit will also tackle crimes against people and property in addition to drug cases.
A number of those arrested Thursday were known to police, Boggs said. There were some arrested Thursday who already were on bond for unrelated offenses.
A list of the names of those arrested was not immediately available Thursday.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” Morrison said. “We keep arresting them. The jails are overcrowded, there aren’t enough treatment centers, and there isn’t enough manpower to deal with all of it.”
Morrison said drugs are affecting the community but that warrant sweeps like Thursday’s are helpful.
“In a small town you can see a difference,” Morrison said. “You talk to people and you get to know people. They can see a difference.
“I don’t think drugs will ever go away. They’ve been here since Vietnam (War), but we’ll keep arresting them.”
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4850.