A surprise round-up early Wednesday, March 18, of accused street-level drug dealers and users in Sevier County resulted by day’s end in more than two-dozen suspects being arrested and jailed.
A seven-month probe called Operation No Refills that focused on prescription medications led to the arrests of the 31 people, according to WATE –TV. Some of the
other drugs confiscated included: marijuana, cocaine heroin and methamphetamine, the TV news program reported.
Undercover officers and confidential sources bought small quantities or whole bottles of the prescriptions from homes, on the streets and in the parking lots of pharmacies and doctors' offices. Investigators told WATE that they found the suspects form a network of people who sell to each other and know the dates of doctor's office visits. The suspects allegedly would fake health issues to get the prescriptions, which they resold for much higher profits.
A typical oxycodone prescription costs the customer roughly $7 to $10 when filled by Medicaid. The prescriptions sold reportedly were for: oxycodone, oxycontin, morphine, hydrocodone in varying strengths, diazepam, valium and clonazepam. They can make up to $1,500 profit when sold individually, the sheriff's office says.
Sevier County Sheriff Ron Seals said deputies were targeting street-level drug dealers because the department believes they have a bigger impact on the community.
He said the street dealers are the ones who accept stolen goods in exchange for drugs.
The sheriff said the arrests were based on sales to undercover officers and not confidential informants, who are not used to make drug buys.
Operation No Refills is the third of its kind by the Sevier County Sheriff's Office in the past 18 months.
The Tennessee Meth Task Force and the Fourth District Attorney General's Office helped the sheriff's office with the operation.
The suspects face Grand Jury indictments.