When law enforcement and concerned citizens team up, the results always prove beneficial to the community. Such is the case with this year’s Operation Candy Crush, a six-month undercover drug operation that has seen dozens of suspected drug users and drug dealers jailed.
The operation was put into motion after numerous citizen complaints came into the Sheriff’s Office about drug dealings being conducted in myriad areas of the county. Armed with those complaints and the knowledge that illegal drug activity was apparently occurring from the southern end to the northern, the western most area to the eastern tip, officers went into action, making undercover buys that resulted in the 40 or so warrants, the bulk of which have now been served.
So far, 30 people have been jailed as part of the Candy Crush operation.
Charges have run the gamut, from the most serious drug offenses of trafficking in everything from cocaine and marijuana to what has become the drug of choice in Sampson — meth — to sell and delivery of those substances.
All those offenses now being leveled deal with the undercover operation and the substances either bought by users or sold to undercover agents.
Ironically when some of those with warrants against them were taken into custody, officers seized additional drugs. Again it ran the gamut — from marijuana to meth to doses of crack.
While it’s scary to think of the number of people in our midst who are using drugs, selling them or, oftentimes, doing both, there is comfort in knowing that concerned residents are keeping their eyes and ears opened and reporting what they believe to be illegal activity to local law enforcement.
Comforting, too, is the knowledge that law enforcement is taking citizen complaints seriously and doing something about it.
Time after time Sampson Sheriff Jimmy Thornton has talked about how important it is for citizens to get involved, to be the nosy neighbor, reporting suspicious activity that just might bring someone to justice, prevent property from being stolen or stop someone from being harmed in some way.
Thornton has stressed the importance those tips are to deputies often stretched thin because of time, miles and limited staff. That second, third and fourth set of eyes and ears helps and, what’s more, it does make a difference.
Such a difference is being made right now as suspected drug dealers are being hauled into jail during Operation Candy Crush.
While there’s no question the old saying remains true — for every drug dealer taken off the street there are three there waiting to step into their shoes — it doesn’t mean we should stop trying to put a dent in the drug trade that goes on right under our noses.
While arresting suspects isn’t the only answer, there’s no question it helps.
Our next step needs to be stopping the desire to use drugs, educating young people to their hazards before they get caught up in something we all will wish they had not.
The only real way to stop dealers in their tracks is to stop the demand. Until that can be done, putting those who refuse to stop their illegal trade behind bars will at least deter the problem.