In this roundup, 34 people were arrested on 78 counts of drug distribution, manufacturing, and possession.
Several area law enforcement agencies combined forces to arrest those Friday who have recently been indicted by the Lee County grand jury and the Multi-Jurisdictional grand jury empaneled at Wise.
“The illegal manufacture, sale, and distribution of narcotics is a problem across Southwest Virginia,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp said. “These substances are killing our communities and poisoning our future. Drug dealers don’t stop at the county line. We won’t stop there either. That’s why we are more diligent than ever in fighting this drug epidemic, working together across county lines.”
"You cut supply lines and make a really big impact that it takes those folks a while to build back their network and get back into the business," Sheriff Gary Parsons said.
Parsons said making a number of a mass arrests is effective for disabling drug rings. "They don't know who is telling on who, who's making deals. All of them become suspicious of each other, which slows down the distribution mechanism."
Parsons estimates around 80 percent of larceny and theft crimes across the county are drug-related.
Lee County Commonwealth's Attorney Fuller Cridlin said many of the cases involve prescription drugs, synthetic drugs, and meth. "Drugs fuel so many of our other crimes here in Lee County, so any time we get a chance to take drug dealers off the streets, that can reduce other crime that we have."
According to Parsons, meth is a growing issue around the county.
"We were fortunate for quite a while. It seemed like it butted up against the Tennessee line in Claiborne County," Parsons said. "They were having a lot of problems that we were fortunate for quite some time, but now it's starting to bleed over pretty heavily now and it's become one of our main problems."
He told us putting offender behind bars does work to deter the problems.
Parsons said, "Unfortunately, that's about the only way you can get them off the street as they build a criminal history that increases their time they're going to get when they go to court."
Slemp thanked the efforts of the Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons, the Southwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, and Lee County Commonwealth’s Attorney Fuller Cridlin. “I am thankful for the efforts of law enforcement throughout Southwest Virginia in fighting the drug problem in our community. It is an honor to work alongside these law enforcement leaders through the Multi-Jurisdictional Grand Jury process to assist in their effort,” Slemp said.