12 alleged drug dealers snagged in early morning roundup
Some alleged Whitley County drug dealers got an early morning wake-up call Wednesday as police from the Whitley County Sheriff's Department, Williamsburg Police Department and Kentucky State Police came knocking on their doors before dawn with arrest warrants.
About 20 officers gathered at the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center about 5 a.m., and broke up into eight or nine teams that hit the streets shortly after 5:30 a.m. looking for 22 alleged drug dealers.
"We are having a multi-department round-up of drug dealers within Whitley County," said Sheriff Colan Harrell.
Harrell said that the round-up was conducted in the early morning hours because officers have a better chance of finding alleged criminals home at that hour.
"They are usually in bed this time of day," he noted.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said that smaller round-ups where authorities are searching for 20 or 30 suspects are much more practical than larger round-ups where authorities are looking for 50 to 60 suspects.
"One time we did a 70-man drug round-up. You don't realize the work that is involved in the drug round-ups. It is not something that happens overnight," Bird said. "There are a lot of man hours involved in it, and a lot of overtime."
Another problem with larger raids is that after police pick up the first few suspects during a round-up, word spreads quickly in the drug community.
"The minute you start arresting five or six people, word starts spreading pretty quickly," Bird noted. "All of these guys, some how they are connected to each other, and they all know each other. Phone lines start lighting up."
Sheriff's deputies obtained arrest warrants for 12 people as a result of their investigations and Williamsburg police obtained 10 arrest warrants for various individuals.
Kentucky State Police provided additional manpower for the drug round-up.
"Drug enforcement is a tedious job," Harrell said. "It is hard to compile a case on a drug dealer now. It is to the point that you don't have to have a hand to hand buy, but you are much better off in court with one."
Wednesday's drug round-up is the culmination of six to eight months of drug investigations and undercover drug buys, which were conducted by the sheriff's department and Williamsburg police.
Most of the cases involved investigations where drugs were purchased from alleged dealers by either undercover officers or confidential informants.
"You have to have the aid of the neighborhood pinpointing, who they are," Harrell said. "Then you target these individuals. It is time consuming and takes a lot of manpower.
"Some people think that just because they think their neighbor is dealing drugs, we can rush in and raid them right then. It's the tip that we initially need, but it is just the start."
Bird agreed that police can't instantly raid an alleged drug dealer based on citizen complaints.
"It is not that simple," Bird said. "There is a lot of time that goes into this. It is a big strain on department budgets. I can't speak for the sheriff's department, but for our agency, every man here is on over-time. Every drug buy we made, we paid out in overtime."
Bird estimates that between money spent for drug buys, over time pay for officers investigating the cases, and over time pay for his officers to conduct the round-up Wednesday, his department alone was out between $7,000 - $8,000.
"We get no outside funding whatsoever for drug buys. Every bit of it comes out of our budget," Bird said. "It is a huge strain for us."
An investigation like this one used to cost Williamsburg police about $5,000.
Last year's penal code reform made it tougher for police to charge someone with drug trafficking, and a greater volume of drugs must be purchased now to make drug trafficking a felony offense.
"To make a good drug case now, you have to get over that threshold with the pills, which means we have to spend more money to do that," Bird noted.
In addition to the obvious expenses, another one is video equipment to record the drug transactions.
Making a dent?
Harrell said he hopes that Wednesday's arrests make a dent in the drug problem locally.
"We have targeted some of these individuals. Some of the others have just come up when we had an opportunity to buy from them. We feel like it will make a dent," he added.
Bird is less optimistic.
"It will make absolutely none," he said. "I used to be hopeful and think we could put a dent in it, but I don't even think we can touch it now. It's sad to say what we are doing here today won't even scratch the surface of it.
"It is basically just letting people know that if you're dealing dope, we know who you are. At some point we will come knocking on your door."
Out of jail by lunch
Because of penal code reforms passed last year by the Kentucky General Assembly that changes how bonds are set, many of the alleged drug dealers arrested Wednesday will be probably be out of jail on bond before lunch.
"It is real frustrating to us," Bird said. "I don't think anybody, who isn't from the law enforcement side of the house, knows how much work goes into a drug case."
By 8 a.m. Wednesday, police had tracked down 11 of their 22 targets for the day. Sheriff's deputies were waiting for one more to get off work before arresting them, and located an additional suspect in Tennessee.
Sheriff's suspects arrested as of 8 a.m. as part of the round-up included:
• Anthony B. Conlin, 45, of Williamsburg - first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Roger David Keith, 44, of Williamsburg - first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Jamie R. McKiney, 35, of Williamsburg - second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
• Michael A. Cima, 37, of Corbin - first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• James Fair, 37, of Williamsburg - first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
Williamsburg Police Department suspects arrested as of 8 a.m. as part of the round-up included:
• Albert Eugene McKiddy, 54, of Williamsburg - first and second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Michael Lee Anderson, 24, of Williamsburg - second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Derek Glenn Hall, 37, of Williamsburg - trafficking in marijuana less than eight ounces.
• Jackie Gail Logan, 48, of Williamsburg - second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Deborah Lynn Hembree, 39, of Williamsburg - second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
• Travis S. Croley, 22, of Williamsburg - second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
Bird said that a special grand jury will hear evidence regarding the drug cases on April 20.