East Texas Town Goes After Suspected Drug Dealers - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


East Texas Town Goes After Suspected Drug Dealers

An undercover operation puts suspected drug dealers in an East Texas town behind bars. Operation Cut, or Cleaning Up Troup, is a months long collaberation between Troup police and the Smith County Sheriff's Department. The city of Troup has been in the spotlight since March, when it's former police chief and an officer were arrested on charges of evidence tampering and distributing marijuana. 

When Troup police chief Pat Hendrix took office May 1st, he says getting drugs off the streets was his top priority.

"I personally would contribute all crime, probably 90 percent of crime to narcotics," said Chief Pat Hendrix, Troup Police Department. "When your lawn mower gets stolen the chances are they stole it to get a crack rock. Your house gets broken into, the chances are they are breaking into your house for drug money." Knowing he could not solve the problem on his own, Hendrix says he asked the Smith County Sheriff's Department for help.

"When I took office I wasn't going to come down here and do it myself," said Hendrix. "We needed help and we are not afraid to ask for help." For the past 3 1/2 months, Troup police officers and sheriff's deputies have been involved in Operation Cut, which stands for Cleaning Up Troup. This morning, they went after 20 alleged drug dealers who sold drugs to undercover officers, some more than once. Deputies also seized six cars and $1,400.00 in cash.

"We believe if we get these drug dealers off the street, the drug users are not going to have anyone to go to buy these drugs for," said Hendrix. It's an operation that both the sheriff's department and Smith County District Attorney says was not possible before.

"What you have now is a police department under the leadership of Chief Hendrix who welcomes agencies such as the Smith County Sheriff's Department, who wants to come in here and work these cases," said Smith County DA Matt Bingham. 

"These people just like Mr. Bingham had said, they are not new to us," said Major Mike Lusk, Smith County Sheriff's Department. "They have been doing it for 15 years. We just couldn't get to them, but we are happy that we have been able to do that today." Hopefully, Hendrix says, it will make Troup a better and safer place to live.

So far, 14 of the 20 alleged drug dealers have been taken into custody. Their ages range from 16 to 76 years old. They all face a misdeamnor charge of Delivery of Narcotics, some more than one count. Now, two of those arrested today are considered habitual offenders, meaning they have had multiple arrests and could face life in prison.   They are Tommy Thomas, 35 and Samuel Sutton, 58, both of Troup. The sheriff's department says Sutton has been selling drugs for more than 25 years.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com


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