Anti-drug efforts are heartening

Agencies work together to combat a major county problem
Nov 21, 2013

The sale of drugs will no longer be tolerated in Haywood County. That’s the powerful message the sheriff and local law enforcement sent this week following the arrest of 18 alleged drug dealers.

The seven-month-long interagency investigation led to the indictment of 28 individuals with a total of 102 charges between them. As of Thursday, 18 of them were in custody along with at least one additional drug arrest. The large operation and countywide roundup made news statewide, pointing to the significance of the arrests.

It’s refreshing and encouraging to see law enforcement from nearly every agency in the county working together to achieve one goal, because this has not always been the case. In the past, interagency cooperation was stifled when investigations crossed from one jurisdiction into the county and other agencies could not always depend on the leadership at the sheriff’s office.

But we all know that criminals pay no attention to county lines when it comes to dealing drugs or any other crime for that matter — a criminal in Maggie Valley could easily travel to Waynesville or somewhere out in the county to make a drug deal.

No matter where the crime occurs, it has an effect on the entire county, which is why interagency cooperation is so imperative.

We applaud the sheriff for stepping up to form a much-needed partnership with the other police departments in the county. In a press conference Tuesday as officers continued the search for the suspects, Sheriff Greg Christopher announced his hope that the investigation sends a strong message that dealing drugs in Haywood County will now be much more difficult.

He said the intention of this investigation was to cut off the problem at its head, starting with drug dealers instead of only focusing on the users.

This should also send a message to the residents of Haywood — those who have lost family and friends to drugs — that law enforcement is aggressively taking on the problem.

For seven months, detectives, officers and deputies have spent countless hours forming this investigation, working dangerously undercover to target the people they believe are responsible for selling meth, prescription pills, marijuana, crack cocaine and heroin across the county.

We hope that if these suspected drug dealers are found guilty of these crimes that judges will view the issue as seriously as law enforcement has and sentence them to the full extent of the law.