County, state and federal law enforcement agencies joined forces Tuesday morning to arrest more than 30 individuals alleged to be involved in drug related activity from neighborhoods across Clay County.
"Anytime we can take someone involved in this type of activity off the streets, our community is much safer for it," Clay County Sheriff' Mike Heaton told The Brazil Times shortly after the main portion of the drug sweep had ended.
"Our residents don't want drugs in their community and this investigation is based on community participation in that effort through their reporting tips of suspicious activity."
More than 60 officers from the Clay County Sheriff's Department, Brazil City Police Department, Clay City Police Department, Clay Community Corrections, Clay County Probation Department were joined by officials from the Indiana State Police (Terre Haute and Bloomington posts), Putnam County Sheriff's Department, Parke County Sheriff's Department, the Department of Natural Resources, DEA and the U.S. Marshals Office around 4:30 a.m., Tuesday, for the warrant sweep of at least 25 residences in Clay, Parke, Owen, Hendricks and Monroe counties.
The Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger and Deputy Prosecutor Kim Jackson were also in the field to assist in serving warrants.
The Department of Family and Child Services were on standby for situations where children are involved. However, no children were discovered in situations where they needed to be removed from a home.
Officers attempted to serve approximately 40 arrest warrants throughout Tuesday and expect to continue the investigation in the upcoming weeks.
Officials are hopeful that after seeing the culmination of the two-year investigation that more people will come forward with more tips about drug activity.
After the April 2006 drug sweep, Heaton and BCPD Chief Terry Harrison confirmed that many local residents took action and began reporting suspected drug activity in their neighborhoods throughout Clay County.
"(Investigating tips) is a timely process and people do become frustrated when they think their information is not working, but it is," Harrison said, adding that he was grateful for the public's assistance in the fight against crime.
"We encourage people to continue to call with information about suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. All of us in law enforcement want to make sure we keep drugs off the streets."
According to officials, information from tips, along with both the county and city departments establishing full time drug officers to investigate drug related activity, led to an increase in local drug arrests the past few years.
The increased arrests have been welcomed within the community, but many local residents have begun to wonder if Clay County is a haven for drugs.
"Clay County is not experiencing a higher level of drug activity than any other county in the Wabash Valley, or in the state. It only seems more prevalent because of all the arrests," Heaton said.
"What makes our area unique is that local law enforcement agencies are working together and have taken a very proactive stance against drugs in our community.
"We're going to continue to take a proactive stance against the people involved in drugs that are dealing because, you know, last thing we want to see is these drugs ending up in kids hands, which obviously sometimes does. We want to keep them out of our schools, out of our community,"?Heaton added.
Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger was impressed with the effort put forth by the officers involved throughout the investigation.
Although no high-profile arrests were made in drug sweep, Reberger said some of the names of the individuals in custody are familiar to the criminal system.
"These arrests will cut down on recruiting new people into the drug world," Reberger said. "Just because there are no high profile arrests today doesn't mean law enforcement officers aren't out there doing their jobs."
If illegal activity is happening, he said law enforcement is going after the individuals involved.
"We're going to chase these people down, where ever they are at," Reberger said.