With two-thirds of the arrest warrants now served in the county’s two-week-old Operation Double Tab, Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said the campaign is achieving what he had hoped — getting suspected drug dealers, many of them repeat offenders, out of area neighborhoods.
It is his hope, the sheriff said, that if convicted of the offenses they are now charged, active jail time will follow.
“There’s no question this has been a real success,” Thornton attested during an interview Monday. “We are pleased with every aspect of it.”
Calling the campaign, now entering its third week, “the talk” of the community,” Thornton said he had heard many positive responses from residents. “They are tickled to death,” the sheriff said.” It really is the culmination of work that began, in many cases, with tips from them.”
But he cautioned that the campaign could not, nor did it, target every single person officers had been tipped about. “Every investigation takes enormous amounts of time and money. We continue to ask people who have been good enough to call us with information to be patient. If a name they gave us doesn’t show up in this campaign, it doesn’t mean it won’t show up later.”
The sheriff applauded the work of his Special Investigation Division agents, noting the countless hours they had put into the campaign, which began with undercover buys nearly a year ago. And he praised the community for its willingness to get involved. “Those people calling, that’s what prompted this campaign and the actions that have taken place. Without those calls, we wouldn’t have any idea what these people were doing and where many times.”
So far Operation Double Tap has pulled in 63 individuals, arrested on a laundry list of offenses from trafficking in heroin, marijuana and cocaine to sell and deliver of the controlled substances.
Thornton said by his count, there were about 35 individuals, some of them who live in other areas or who are currently in the Department of Corrections on other charges, left to be picked up. “We’ve made a good dent, and we’ll get the others, too, there’s no question about that.”
The latest two individuals to be caught up in the Tap net are:
• Cory McKethan, 38, 155 Sand Stone Lane, Autryville, 1 count possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver cocaine, 1 count sell cocaine, 1 count deliver cocaine, 1 count maintaining a dwelling for the sell of a controlled substance. Bond $50,000; court date Aug. 29.
• Jason Allen Wright, 32, 176 Raymond Lane, Clinton, 1 count possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver marijuana, 1 count sell marijuana, 1 count deliver marijuana. Bond $25,000; court date Aug. 29.
(Editor Sherry Matthews can be reached at 910-249-4612. Follow her on Twitter @sieditor1960; follow the paper @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.)