Busted – Cops launch Operation Silent Sweet

Photo by Emily Baker
Photo by Emily Baker

Knox County Sheriff’s Department continues the fight against drugs in Knox County.

Following tips through the Drug Tip Hot Line, Knox County Sheriff’s deputies spent three months undercover gathering evidence and intelligence on drug dealers throughout Knox County. And on Wednesday, Dec. 16, they struck.

The Sheriff’s Department teamed up with Operation UNITE, Barbourville Police Department, Constable Reed Murphy, and Kentucky State Police Post 10, to orchestrate an operation to arrest as many dealers as possible. Officials began the day with 21 warrants to serve, and within one hour, eight dealers had been taken into custody.

“We’re doing what we can to control the drug problem,” said an undercover deputy. “We really appreciate the citizens that call the Drug Tip Hot Line. It definitely helps us do our job.”

After being arrested without incident and placed in the cruiser, Jerry Merida, 66, of Barbourville,  became unresponsive, and deputies immediately stopped in a parking lot and began CPR. CPR was continued by Deputy Sidney Wagner and Barbourville City Police Officer Josh Lawson until an ambulance arrived. Merida was flown to Baptist Health in Corbin where he remains in critical condition.

The following were arrested and have been charged during Operation Silent Sweep:

• Clarence Valentine, 74, of Hedrick: Second degree trafficking in controlled substance and convicted felon in possession of handgun.

• Delia Mills, 78, of Dewitt: second degree trafficking in controlled substance.

• Wendell Smith, 66, of Dewitt: second degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Ronnie Warren, 70, of Bimble: first degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• James Donaldson, 49, of Barbourville: first degree trafficking in controlled substance.

•Amos Rice, 59, of Bimble, first degree trafficking in controlled substance, second degree trafficking in controlled substance and third degree trafficking in controlled substance.

• Dillard Brown, 56, of Boone Heights: second degree trafficking in controlled substance.

• Jerry Merida, 66, of Barbourville: second degree trafficking in controlled substance. • Jeffery Brown, 43, of Dewitt: first degree trafficking in controlled substance.

• Jason Wyatt, 34, of Gray: second degree trafficking in controlled substance.

• Johnny Eads, 43, of Gray: first degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Mathew McCrystal, 34, of Gray: second degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• James Roberts, 53, of Woodbine: first degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

All individuals were lodged in the Knox County Detention Center.