A massive drug sweep across Clinton County has left 31 people in custody, becoming the largest countywide arrest effort in more than a decade.
More than 70 law-enforcement officials from several agencies fanned out across the county early Thursday to execute warrants for many of the accused.
While some were picked up earlier this week, most were arrested Thursday.
As of midday, police were still searching for one person, whom they did not identify because it is a sealed indictment.
State Police Lt. Charles Potthast said the sweep “went very smooth,” with no incidents reported.
‘LARGER SCALE OF DRUGS’
District Attorney Andrew Wylie, who led an afternoon news conference to detail the busts, said the warrants stemmed from recent grand-jury action and ranged from accusations of cocaine dealing to illegal sales of dangerous prescriptions.
No drugs or money were seized during the arrests.
Wylie said the broad range of drugs involved in the indictments represents what has become a “larger scale of drugs in the community.”
He said the sweep has been in the works for about a year and is a prime example of the collaborative success of the Adirondack Drug Task Force and State Police Troop B Narcotics Task Force.
“I think it says a lot about the Adirondack Drug Task Force,” he said, applauding the effort’s continued success in the community.
“We’ll never get each and every individual off the street, but this certainly takes a big crack out of it.”
SENDING A MESSAGE
Echoing those sentiments, Plattsburgh City Police Chief Desmond Racicot said sweeps like Thursday’s widespread effort send a message that illegal drug use in the community will not be tolerated.
James Burns, assistant special agent for DEA Operations in New York, also commended the Task Force for its ongoing work, saying, “Without these collaborative efforts in bringing in all these agencies’ resources to the table, we can’t make these cases.”
Wylie said several of the accused have prior criminal histories but noted that others appear to be first-time offenders.
He said the indictments also prove a growing problem of prescription abuse and illegal sales in the community.
Potthast hoped the recent arrests of those allegedly involved in prescription sales shows that, “If you’re dealing with these pills, you’re going to be arrested.”
During the news conference, officials detailed their recent efforts in curbing the problem but noted that many crimes continue to have an element of drug abuse involved, particularly prescription drugs.
They said taking prescriptions that are legally prescribed to someone else can be just as dangerous, and potentially deadly, as using harsh illegal drugs, such as cocaine.
Racicot noted that while police were executing the warrants Thursday morning, a Plattsburgh teen was hospitalized after an apparent prescription-drug overdose.
In addition to using massive law-enforcement resources to execute the sweep, Sheriff David Favro said, additional correction officers at the County Jail were called in to process the new inmates.
He said there was a “20-percent increase in the jail population with today’s bust.”
Favro said the drugs not only endanger those who use them and fuel a criminal market, but also drain the taxpayers by having to foot the bill for their incarceration, possible legal expenses and medical care.”
He urged the community to always report anything suspicious and to get rid of all unwanted prescriptions, saying, “That’s going to be the true success (of the police effort’s). The eyes and ears of the community.”
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