Police fanned out in Letcher County Tuesday to arrest of seven of 21 persons named in 35 felony indictments related to drug trafficking.
The arrests and indictments are the result of a long investigation by the counter drug task force Operation UNITE into illegal prescription drug sales in Letcher County. The undercover investigation leading up to the roundup began about one year ago and involved primarily the pain medications hydrocodone and oxycodone.
“A large number of these cases are the result of citizen calls to UNITE’s toll-free drug tip line,” said Dan Smoot, UNITE’s law enforcement director.
Smoot said UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education) officials have received 706 calls from Letcher County residents telling them about suspected drug activities.
“The importance of information from the public about suspicious activity cannot be underestimated,” said Smoot. The agency’s drug tip hotline number is 1-866-424-4382.
Lt. Brian Damron of the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department said those arrested on Tuesday “are what we consider as mid- to low-level dealers which are causing a majority of problems.” Damron said drug roundups are very useful because they make drug dealers worry about who they’ve sold illegal drugs to and wonder if they will be among those arrested soon.
“It’s also our way for the community to understand what we are doing,” said Damron.
The seven arrested Tuesday by UNITE detectives and Letcher County Sheriff ’s deputies and the charges against them were:
• Wayne Back, 45, of Linefork, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and seconddegree persistent felony offender.
• Billy Ray Fields, 54, of Court Road, Partridge, seconddegree trafficking in a controlled substance. Police said that at the time of his arrest a quantity of hydrocodone was found in his possession and he will be charged with a second count of second- degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Clarence Halcomb, 55, of Galloway Acres, Partridge, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and first-degree persistent felony offender.
• Billy Hubbs, 50, of Highway 3073, Partridge, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Johnny Osborne, 44, Highway 199 South, Partridge, second- degree trafficking in a controlled substance and first-degree persistent felony offender.
• George Thomas, 69, Circle Drive, Whitesburg, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and first-degree persistent felony offender.
• Nervesta J. Boggs, also know as Vesty Boggs, 45, of 1021 Bo Fork, Whitesburg, trafficking in a controlled substance.