There’s good and bad news in the latest county drug campaign, labeled Operation Candy Crush.
In just over a week, 26 Sampson County residents have been jailed on varied — and serious — drug offenses, from trafficking in opiates and selling meth to possession and delivery of marijuana and cocaine, and another 14 or so more are expected to be taken into custody soon on similar charges.
That’s the good news.
Any time suspected drug dealers and users are taken off our streets, along with the illegal substances they use to addict more and more of our families, friends and neighbors, it’s a positive. The only thing better is when those who are deemed guilty are actually sentenced and made to pay for the problems they’ve created.
Good news, too, is that law enforcement officers are hot on the trail of those plying such illegal trades and the ones who commit other crimes in order to feed got-to-have-it-at-any-cost addictions.
Candy Crush is yet another shining example of Sheriff Jimmy Thornton’s continued fight against a drug problem that only seems to escalate year after year. Though it often will grow quiet for months at a time, when it rears its head again, the drug issues seem to be more fierce and far-reaching, touching lives across Sampson.
The good news within the bad of what Thornton calls a serious drug epidemic in our county is the vigilance of residents intent on ridding their neighborhoods of drug dealers and users. It’s those tips and complaints phoned in daily to the Sheriff’s Office that fuel the fires of enforcement that keep operations like Crush ongoing and successful — fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at it.
Thornton has repeatedly said that the ringing phones in his offices are a signal that residents believe officers can and will do something about their complaints as well as a warning bell about the growing problem with drugs in Sampson.
While the sheriff always points out that the drug epidemic is not just a Sampson County problem, for those of us living in its midst, it is the one we care about most and want to see handled, efficiently and quickly.
Law enforcement officers do their very best, evidenced by the number of warrants issued (over 40) in Candy Crush and the number of people already suspected of crimes related to that operation.
But the bad news remains the undeniable fact that drug abuse is rampant here, be it prescription medications or illegal substances. Drugs have no prejudice, again evidenced by those who have become its victims, men and women, along with our teens — from all walks of life and from all races.
Worse still is the realization that so many other crimes are directly tied to that drug abuse. The ever-present break-ins that can be found in just about any day’s crime reports are an examples of crimes often borne out of a need to make fast cash to feed drug habits; assault reports a grim reminder of the impact addictions have on others.
Yet the bad news is tempered by the fact that we have law enforcement officers working daily to combat the problems. Sometimes the dents seem large; other times they seem small, but the fact that they are making a dent at all should give us assurance that work is being done, even though our help will always be needed.
Our hat is off to Thornton and his team for their vigilance in combating this major problem, just as we offer thanks and praise to residents for being soldiers in the drug battle.