52 cited in drug sting
Teams of Wilson County Sheriffs Deputies began a large round-up of individuals charged with drug-related crimes Thursday, Dec. 15after 84 indictments were returned on 52 individuals from a Wilson County grand jury.
By late Thursday afternoon, a total of 23 individuals had been arrested in the operation.
Sheriff Terry Ashe said the indictments were returned on Dec. 12 and the sting began before 6 a.m. Thursday, when eight teams of deputies and special operations officers went out to arrest the individuals, which included some high ranking members of local gangs.
All of these charges range from the sale of Schedule I to Schedule VI drugs, Ashe said Thursday morning, noting that heroin is a Schedule I drug and Marijuana is an example of a Schedule 6.
Ashe said the investigation has been ongoing for around five months and targeted individuals allegedly selling, manufacturing, delivery and possession of cocaine, marijuana and other controlled substances.
Many of the individuals targeted by the investigation and round-up Thursday morning are first-time offenders. However, Ashe said there are many who he described as frequent fliers, indicating those individuals have a criminal past.
The round-up began with arrests in the Lebanon area with some also from Watertown and in Mt. Juliet, netting 15 individuals in the first hour. Ashe said in these large investigations, speed is of the essence and they have to move as quickly as possible.
As the day goes on, these people make bond, get on the phone and the others become real hard to find, he said.
Several of the individuals charged are known members of the Vice Lords and Crips gangs, with some holding rank in those organizations. Ashe said they are constantly fighting against the gangs, but said it can be difficult because new members take the place of those in custody.
Its a good thing that we can identify them, but its a bad thing when we pick them up and someone takes their place, Ashe said.
Included in the investigation were several search warrants and Ashe said deputies carried out a search on Hickory Ridge Road discovering a sizeable amount of cash and narcotics. He also pointed out they could seize as many as 16 vehicles.
Officers making the arrests worked in teams of two and at times teams of four, with Ashe saying there were special operations officers mixed in with the deputies. With many of the individuals considered armed and dangerous, Ashe said they were very cautious.
Also, Ashe noted some families will be charged with child endangerment due to manufacturing narcotics and controlled substances in homes and in the presence of children.
He said it was disheartening to see the many first time offenders in the round-up and said the department continues to send a message to those involved in the manufacture and sale of these drugs.
Youre never going to stamp it out, but youve got to keep fighting it, Ashe said.
As of press time for this story, the following individuals were arrested in relation to the drug round-up carried out all day Thursday
Felicia Kay Tucker, 1242 Mimosa Ct. in Lebanon charged with selling Schedule II, cocaine.