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Pendleton Co. Drug sweep targets suspected heroin dealers

PENDLETON COUNTY, Ky. (Rich Jaffe) -- A nine-month long undercover investigation into heroin dealing culminates Wednesday with the arrest of 15 people.

Pendleton County deputies, state troopers and police from both Falmouth and Butler are still looking for an additional seven accused dealers.  I found the dealers in custody in a story you'll see only on Local 12.
Say they're not the real problem.  It's the wake up call nobody wants to hear when police are asking you to open the door.  When investigators kicked in Andrew Wrights door early Wednesday morning they confiscated more than 11,000 dollars in cash, possibly as much as $6,000 dollars worth of drugs, piles of cell phones and also food stamps and medical cards belonging to Wright and his friend, alleged drug dealer Jesse James Fuller.

Wright's already on parole for drug charges.  Walking out in handcuffs I asked him if if the police had gotten it all wrong?  He responded by saying, "Yes sir."

So I followed up by asking if he did anything wrong.  To which he said, "I use to yeah.  Should have turned myself in when I left rehab."

Once in custody the suspects were processed at the Pendleton County Justice Center, interviewed, photographed like Stephen Ayres and jailed.  That's where we met alleged dealers Jamie Moneyhon and his sister, Melissa.

Jamie told me, "We're really just a bunch of users and the bad guys are all really out there running.  I feel they need to turn us loose and go get the bad guys really doing all the selling."

It's an argument that doesn't get a lot of sympathy here. 

Pendleton County Sheriff Craig Peoples explained, "We have about 1 overdose a week and sometimes more so they are contributing to the problem.  Whether they're going down and bringing it back for somebody else, that's still trafficking."

The flood of '97 forced a lot of long time homeowners out of this community.  Afterwards there was a surge in cheap rental housing and investigators say that's helping to bring in a flood of a different kind...heroin.

Kentucky State Police Sergeant Gerald Fieger tells us, "Pendleton County is ate up with heroin.  Actually the day of the grand jury we indicted all these subjects we actually had an overdose, one of the targets we were looking for, had warrants for, had an overdose and almost died.  Had to be taken to the hospital for a heroin overdose."

Less than a year ago authorities did the same kind of round up and netted 43 dealers.  Neither they nor law enforcement expect the future to be much different.
Only one person in the indictments was charged with trafficking meth amphetamine.  Almost all the dealers were arrested for dealing heroin.  Five of them are being charged as persistent felony offenders which can bring down a much stiffer sentence if convicted.


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