Drug Busts Net Nearly 30 Arrests - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/11/04 - Smith County

Drug Busts Net Nearly 30 Arrests

Kicking down doors and breaking windows, S.W.A.T. team members charged into houses under the cover of darkness, just before dawn. Sleeping suspects were woken up with a "flash bang" thrown into their homes to catch them off guard. Sheriff's deputies say they arrested at least 20 of the 30 suspects they were looking for. And during the drug sweep, they even took several suspects into custody who were not on their lists, but were wanted on related charges.

"These are the big ones that we really wanted bad," Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith said. "In their possession was cocaine, methamphetamine, ice, just an assortment of, almost a smorgasbord of drugs."

Officers say, in at least one case, marijuana was sitting out in plain view, and another suspect was sleeping with meth ice in his hand. This undercover drug operation began August 31 of last year. And today, it culminated in multiple suspects going to jail. The 5-month operation started with tips leading authorities to the suspects. Authorities say undercover narcotics officers bought drugs from the dealers. The officers monitored their daily habits, including even details about which rooms the suspects slept in and which side of the bed.

"There's a lot of work that goes into this," Matt Bingham, acting district attorney, said. "These officers are putting their lives on the line, going in these doors and taking these drugs off the street."

Thousands of dollars worth of drugs, a business Sheriff Smith says is linked to at least 85 percent of all crimes. Sheriff's deputies say they also confiscated at least three guns and two vehicles from the suspects. At least seven of the 27 suspects have bonded out of jail. Authorities say they are still looking for 10 more suspected drug dealers on the loose.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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