Area law enforcement took strides this week to rid the area of drugs by making several arrests after more than an year of investigations.
Warrants were issued for 10 individuals related to drug distribution in Beatrice following the investigations, and police began making arrests Monday morning.
Beatrice Police Lt. Jay Murphy said the department conducted controlled drug purchases using informants as part of the investigations, and the department’s goal was to make arrests in one large sweep.
“On these type of things the purpose of trying to do them all at one time is if you don’t, some of them hunker down and then you have a hard time finding them, or it’s a more dangerous arrest in the future,” he said.
Murphy added the arrests are a major accomplishment for the department, but especially for those officers who spend months or even years working behind the scenes to get drug dealers off the streets.
“They have worked really hard on making cases on these guys and gals and I’m sure it’s rewarding for them, because it’s a lot of work,” Murphy said. “It’s been over the last year they made these cases. I think it’s a never-ending battle, but a step in the right direction and a good message for others to see that if they’re dealing in illegal narcotics, their time will come.”
Authorities made four arrests Monday for distribution of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. Those included Wade Padgett who was arrested in Virginia, Dawn Meyer who was arrested in Odell, Phillip Olin who was arrested in Beatrice and Christopher Simpson who was also arrested in Beatrice.
Olin faces additional charges of drug possession due to having methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in his possession at the time of arrest.
Wadgett and Simpson face enhanced charges due to drug sales being made within 1,000 feet of a school or playground.
Many of the suspects were residing in Gage County, while law enforcement in Lincoln and Bellevue were assisting to arrest those suspects who now live in their communities.
Sheriff’s deputies and members of a Lincoln drug task force assisted with the arrests in Beatrice, and Murphy said most arrests are made without incident. Added precautions are taken if police believe a suspect may be dangerous.
“If it’s going to be a dangerous arrest we’ll probably try and get a search warrant and get the SWAT team and do that,” Murphy said.
He added that the series of coming arrests are the latest example of the department’s efforts to crack down on drugs, and that many people don’t realize how much crime is related to drugs in some way.
“A lot of our crime is based around drugs,” Murphy said. “A lot of people don’t see that. They just see that ‘hey, my car got broken into,’ but a lot of that stuff is based around drugs. They need money to buy drugs so they go steal stuff and sell it for money or trade it for drugs. I think it’s a step in the right direction and shows the public that we are working hard on cutting down on the free use of them.”