Joining forces: Haywood officers crack down on drugs with joint operation

·3 min read

Jul. 20—A joint operation by every law enforcement agency across Haywood County netted 53 charges over the course of four days last week.

Working in teams, officers fanned out to conduct traffic stops in areas where evidence suggested drug trafficking was occurring.

"We receive information from the community about drugs and drug traffickers at particular locations just about every day honestly," said Captain Tony Cope with the investigation division at the Haywood County Sheriff's Office.

But getting a search warrant requires hard evidence, a time-consuming process of building cases through undercover drug buys and informants. And in the war on drugs in Haywood County, time is of essence.

"We need to dismantle these organizations that are bringing poison into our communities," Cope said. "It doesn't just affect the users, but the entire family surrounding them."

The drug operation last week focused on traffic stops, netting numerous suspects with large quantities of drugs and guns in their vehicles.

"We took a proactive approach in communities where we had received intel that drug activity was going on," Cope said.

While the operation was spearheaded by the Haywood County Sheriff's Office, the Waynesville, Maggie Valley and Canton police departments all participated, as well.

"We all share the same burden if you will. It was really good for everybody to work together, share information and pull the rope in the same direction," Cope said.

Each team included multiple officers from different jurisdictions, which not only gave them the experience of working together, but also meant a fresh set of eyes, said Waynesville Assistant Police Chief Brandon Gilmore.

"We broke up in groups and moved throughout the county as a collaborative effort," Gilmore said. "We worked aggressively to turn up all the drug charges we could."

By pooling manpower, the proactive operation could be pulled off without having to worry about who was covering the regular patrol shift, Gilmore added.

"We were fortunate to be included," Maggie Valley Police Chief Russ Gilliland said. "We're glad our agencies can come together to help our community in this drug war, and that's what it is."

The Canton Police Department was also involved, including its newest K9 officer, Riley, and his handler Cpl. Travis Johnson. The operation provided valuable experience for the new duo.

"If we can continue to chip away at this problem, every little step can be a big help," said Canton Police Chief Scott Sluder.

Fentanyl topped the list of seized drugs. The drug has surpassed both meth and opioid pills, and unfortunately is the most potent and lethal drug to hit the streets yet.

"Not allowing this poison to get in our neighborhoods saves peoples lives, period," Cope said.

The charges

Dakota Bradshaw

—Domestic warrants (2)

Russell Gentry

—Warrant (1)

—Possession of a schedule II

Tina Martinez

—Trafficking in methamphetamine (2)

—Conspiring to traffic in methamphetamine

Sherry Keith

—Possession of methamphetamine

—Trafficking in methamphetamine

—Conspiring to traffic methamphetamine

Paris Strickland

—Possession of methamphetamine

Susan Fulp

—Out of state warrant

Brenton Plott

—Trafficking in opium or heroin (4)

—Conspiring to traffic opium/heroin (2)

Stephanie Evans

—Trafficking in opium or heroin (4)

—Conspiring to traffic opium/heroin (2)

Chuck Bryson

—Possession of methamphetamine

Ryan Penland

—Trafficking in methamphetamine (2)

—Maintain a dwelling place (2)

—Possession with intent to sell/manufacture/deliver methamphetamine

—T-DWLR not impaired

—Possession with intent to sell/manufacture/deliver schedule II

—Trafficking in opium or heroin (2)

—Probation violation

Waynesville Police Department

Richard Moore

—Failure to appear (2)

Kaleigh Simpson

—Trafficking in opium or heroin

—Possession with intent to manufacture/sell/deliver schedule II

—Carrying a concealed weapon

Bruce Smith

—Failure to appear (3)

Jeremy Barnes

—Possession of methamphetamine

—Possession of a schedule II controlled substance

Christian Taylor

—Possession of a schedule II controlled substance

Mathew Sides

—Possession of a schedule II controlled substance

Janet Flynn

—Possession of drug paraphernalia

Julie Bouwman

—Possession of a schedule II controlled substance

—Possession of a schedule III controlled substance

—Possession of methamphetamine

Cameron Green

—Failure to Appear (2)