WISE — Authorities targeted 30 individuals in Wise County on Thursday in the latest of a series of anti-drug investigations and mass arrests over the past two years.
“Operation Street Sweeper VI” was launched Thursday as members of the Virginia State Police, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Big Stone Gap Police Department fanned out to serve arrest warrants based on indictments by the multi-jurisdictional grand jury.
The sixth in the Street Sweeper series includes a range of charges including distribution of scheduled prescription narcotics to distribution of marijuana.
The focus of Street Sweeper VI was the illegal use and sale of pharmaceutical drugs that have become a major problem in Southwest Virginia, said Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ron Elkins. The illegal use of prescription medicines is the leading cause of drug overdose deaths as well as the catalyst for other crimes committed in the county and Norton, he said.
“We are making progress every day in the fight against drugs in Wise County and the city of Norton,” Elkins said. “We have some of the best law enforcement officers in the state — men and women who have dedicated their lives to protect Wise County citizens. They are in harm’s way for our families, and I thank them for it. This mass arrest is another step in keeping Wise County a great place to live.”
The initial Street Sweeper operation resulted in the arrest of nearly 50 individuals in mid-April of last year. The ensuing four operations resulted in the arrest of approximately 150 more individuals on a variety of drug charges.
All those arrested in the latest Street Sweeper roundup by 3 p.m. on Thursday are residents of Big Stone Gap unless otherwise indicated. Those arrested and their charges include:
• David Wayne Ramey, 30, 3427 East Stone Gap Road, distribution of Schedule II and Schedule III drugs.
• Erica Broach Stewart, 36, 513 Third Ave., Schedule III distribution.
• Stellan Rena Blair, 38, 1321 Lexington Ave., Schedule III distribution.
• Tammy McMahan, 34, 320 West Clinton Ave., Schedule II distribution.
• Amanda Airis Back, 28, 2718 E. Sixth Ave., Schedule II distribution.
• Clifton Wayne Carroll, 28, 2307 E. First Ave., distribution of marijuana.
• Rita Gay Diets, 44, Monte Vista Apartments No. A-68, Schedule III distribution.
• Gary Eugene Gainey, 45, 2720 Second Ave. E., Schedule II distribution and petit larceny.
• Karen Sue Hamilton, 31, P.O. Box 138, Schedule III distribution.
• Eric Wayne Shelton, 23, Estep Trailer Court, Lot No. 6, Schedule III distribution and conspiracy to distribute.
• James Allen Ramey, 66, 3427 East Stone Gap Road, Schedule II distribution.
• Christopher Todd Barnette, 35, 217 W. First St., Schedule III distribution.
• Curtis Gregory Fleenor, 45, P.O. Box 455, Schedule III distribution.
• Thomas Ray Houston, 25, Ponderosa Trailer Park, Schedule II distribution.
• Kristin Lynn Vaughn, 24, 137 E. Morgan Ave., Pennington Gap, Schedule II distribution.
• Shirley Lou Barker, 61, Oak Mountain Trailer Park, Schedule IV distribution.
• Bobby Gene Coomer, 26, 2524 E. Fifth Ave., Schedule II distribution.
• Stoney Lynn Garrett, 40, 2171 Pinehurst Road., Exeter, Schedule II distribution.
• Carl Burton Hubbard, 48, 20 W. Fourth St., distribution of marijuana and Schedule II and Schedule III narcotics.
• Bobby Ray Owens, 34, 2229 Fourth Ave. E., Schedule II distribution.
• Amber Leanne Sexton, 24, Estep Trailer Court, Lot No. 6, distribution and conspiracy to distribute Schedule III drugs.
• Matthew Donald Mitchell, 21, 304 Wallens Ridge Blvd., Schedule III distribution.
• Richard Junior Garrett, 46, P.O. Box 17, Keokee, Schedule II distribution.