Dozens of suspected drug dealers arrested in Cocke Co. roundup

Dozens of suspected drug dealers arrested in Cocke County roundup

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Forty-three people face charges in Operation Iron Fist. Forty-three people face charges in Operation Iron Fist.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

NEWPORT (WATE) - Law enforcement in Cocke County made a lot of headway Friday in their effort to stamp out drug activity.

Officers conducted the largest drug roundup in county history on Friday morning. Forty-three people face charges.

Five months of undercover investigation by the narcotics team led to the roundup, dubbed Operation Iron Fist.

Prescription pill dealers were their main target. "We're doing everything we can to prosecute those selling to people with addictions. A lot of times, people are selling to support a habit," said Sheriff Armando Fontes.

Ten of the 43 people who are charged were already arrested before the roundup, and officers were anxious to get the other 33 into custody.

Sheriff Fontes says getting drug dealers off the streets cuts down on all types of crime. "The major problem you see related to serious crimes and other crimes is drug abuse and those who sell drugs," he said.

Operation Iron Fist is about more than simply making arrests. "We've been conducting searches and seizing property associated with drug activity. We're trying to make it as hard as we can on individuals that are hurting families," the sheriff added.

Jan Kinder says she's glad to hear about the roundup because the drug problem is rampant right outside her door.

"In my neighborhood, drugs is the biggest problem. We can't hardly live for people climbing all over us trying to get money and drugs," she said.

Sheriff Fontes is confident some of the arrests will make a big difference. "Some people we're taking in today are supplying drugs very heavily," he said.

He also says Operation Iron Fist is the first of many drug roundups for the county. He says they've already started investigations for a future roundup they hope to conduct in the next few months.

The roundup Friday was so large, the sheriff's office had to be assisted by several state and federal agencies.

Apart from the arrests, the operation resulted in the seizure of 11 vehicles, 10 pounds of marijuana and more than 2,700 prescription pills.

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