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Fire dept. president, founding member charged in drug bust

The president of the Sandlick Volunteer Fire Department was arrested last week after police say they caught the 73-year-old man trafficking a large amount of cocaine in Letcher County.

Buddy Sexton, of 103 Memory Lane, located near the foot of Sandlick Mountain, was arrested at 4:10 p.m. on Nov. 4 after members of the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department found approximately three ounces of cocaine, and five hydrocodone and Xanax tablets in the red Chevrolet truck he was driving. Police also seized $1,840 in cash and a .38 caliber handgun that were also found in the truck.

Sgt. Allen Layne, of the Appalachian HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Drug Task Force, said officers were able to obtain information about Sexton through an investigation, which led to a traffic stop on Thursday. Sgt. Brian Damron, of the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department, saw Sexton driving on 931 North near the Sapphire coal tipple at Colson.

Damron said he found the three large chunks of cocaine in vacuumsealed bags hidden in a paper cigarette carton. He said the amount of cocaine was much more than anyone would have for personal use. Authorities estimated the minimum value of the three ounces at $8,400, but believe it would have been “cut” with other substances to increase the amount powder.

“It’s a pretty significant amount of cocaine,” said Damron.

Damron said drug dealers usually chop large chunks of cocaine into smaller pieces and mix it with other white powdery substances such as “mannitol” before placing it in small Baggies and selling it for about $100 a gram.

“The amount could have easily been tripled once it was cut down (and sold) by the grams,” he said.

Sexton was charged with first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (cocaine) and prescription of a controlled drug not in a proper container.

Sexton was booked in the Letcher County Jail at 4:50 p.m. on Nov. 4. He was released from custody and placed on home incarceration after a family member posted a $10,000 cash bond about 50 minutes later. Sexton is scheduled to appear in Letcher District Court for arraignment today (Nov. 10).

Authorities say the case is still under investigation and that more charges are pending.

Layne said the sheriff ’s department had received complaints about Sexton in the past.

“HIDTA drug task has a working relationship with the sheriff ’s department,” said Layne. “We will continue to support their efforts in combating the drug war in Letcher County.”

Damron said the sheriff ’s department doesn’t have any evidence that the Sandlick Fire Department had anything to do with the cocaine trafficking.

“In no way are we condemning an organization he belongs to because of his actions,” said Damron. “Just because his name is related to one of the local fire departments, we don’t believe any (other members) of the fire department had a part in it.”

Sexton has served as president of the fire department for more than 20 years. He helped acquire the land on which the department is located, and played a major part in building and maintaining it.

Almost a dozen volunteer firefighters walked out of a meeting Jan. 3 at Sandlick just before officers including Sexton were elected for the new year. Several of the firefighters were unhappy that at least 25 people who don’t regularly attend the meetings were there to vote for certain candidates seeking department offices. In the past, to be able to vote for officers, firefighters had to attend a minimum number of meetings a year in addition to answering a minimum number of fire alarms.

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