On Friday, Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton and Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger spoke with The Brazil Times about Thursday's operation.
Due to the amount of evidence necessary to create a strong case against a defendant, drug investigations can take up to a year or more of a detective's time.
According to officials, the suspects involved in Thursday's warrant sweep had been under investigation for more than nine months, with approximately 200 hours spent by investigators on surveillance and collecting evidence.
Once a case reaches a point investigators believe it is solid enough to stand up in court, all the evidence is reviewed before a case report and charging information is provided to the prosecutor's office.
The prosecutor's office once again reviews the information to create a formal probable cause affidavit and other necessary paperwork for review by a judge. If a judge finds the allegations to be justified, they sign the arrest warrant.
However, it is not a formal set of charges against the suspect until the Clay County Clerk's Office processes the charges and types the warrant. What court will handle the case and potential bond information is also determined at this time.
According to Reberger, the decision as to whether the information in the arrest warrant will be available for public record has to be made during this phase of the review process.
"Not all arrest warrants are automatically sealed. We have to make that request when the judge reviews the case," Reberger said. "Sealing that information not only protects the officers who will have to serve the warrant, but also the integrity of the investigation."
When the arrest warrant is returned to investigators, the next step in security protocols takes place -- an informational arrest packet is created for the "target."
"It contains the warrant, photos of the suspect and the location selected, like their home, to serve the warrant," Heaton said. "It also includes pertinent intelligence gathered during the investigation about the suspect, any previous criminal history and the information necessary to speed up the booking process when the suspect is brought into the jail."
Informational packets are also created to coordinate the details of the operation with the 911 dispatch center at the Clay County Justice Center.
"We always have back-up plans for medical issues as well," Heaton said.
Then it's time to set a date.
"There are a lot of factors we have to consider," Heaton said. "And anything can change along the way."
Whether there will be enough manpower available to handle the number of targets within the department, if other departments need to be involved and budget constraints play key roles in selecting a day.
"We were fortunate to have enough manpower within the department to do this warrant sweep Thursday and still have deputies out on normal patrol within the county," Heaton said. "Deputies are paid with county tax dollars and the grant was made available through federal tax dollars. Local residents got twice the bang for their tax dollars Thursday."
The bang is even greater, according to Heaton, because the grant money was also used to purchase equipment for the department and support the department's anhydrous sting in March and April.
"We wanted to stop methamphetamine from getting into our community before it had a chance to be made," Heaton said about the arrest of another 11 suspects.
Settling on a date is not only choosing one that works best for the department, but also taking into consideration factors involving the suspect, including if it's a holiday or weekend, if the suspect is employed, whether there are schools or public housing or facilities nearby or what family members might be at home.
"If there are children in the home, we try to wait until after they have left for school," Heaton said. "A child doesn't need to see that."
Officials also try to avoid arresting a suspect at work.
"We don't want to risk potentially creating a negative impact on a local business," Reberger added.
On the judicial side of the equation, Reberger explained the best date is one in which the hectic court system is not congested with cases so a judge can be available to review any additional requests for search warrants.
The prosecutor's office also needs to have enough staff members on duty to handle the normal case load along with the incoming cases, and still have one person available to be in the field with investigators to help with procedural questions.
"It's not a real problem during a weekday when the courthouse is open anyway," Reberger, who was out in the field with deputies during Thursday's warrant sweep, said. "All the offices work well together and are more than willing to accommodate the extra work."
The day of a warrant sweep, there are always more issues to deal with.
"Timing is crucial," Heaton said. "The element of surprise is better and safer for everyone."
On Thursday, deputies had to perform traffic control, make arrangements for family members to pick up the children of two suspects, contact another county regarding an outstanding arrest warrant and transport of that suspect to that county, provide information to landlords and concerned citizens while dealing with new arrests and organizing prisoner transport.
"We not only have to have officers go inside to arrest people," Heaton said. "But we have to have officers available on the outside to provide safety for everyone involved."
During the warrant sweep, the CCSD worked with Vigo County Sheriff's Department Drug Task Force, Parke County Sheriff's Department and the Montezuma Police Department.
"There is so much planning that goes into something like this," Reberger said. "The public really needs to understand that the primary concern in these types of operations has always been the safety of everyone involved. This is an ongoing project. We're doing the best we can to get the drugs off the streets by going after these suspects in a timely manner with the strongest cases possible."