LANCASTER, S.C. (WBTV) – The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office concluded Operation Fall Harvest, a months-long drug investigation, with the arrests of multiple people for drug and weapons offenses.
Over two dozen officers spread out across the county beginning early Thursday morning armed with approximately 80 arrest warrants for almost 50 people. The team was comprised of agents of the Drug Task Force, criminal investigators, the Street Crimes Unit, and uniformed deputies who were joined by agents from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
“Our number one focus has always been to work narcotics aggressively. To target gangs aggressively,” said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile.
The operation began in January and involved the undercover purchase of illegal drugs from people in all areas of the county. The buys concluded in late September. The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in some of the undercover operations.
The people and the geographic areas of the investigation were based upon information provided by confidential informants, intelligence gathered by Drug Task Force agents, and complaints from citizens. Approximately 135 charges were made on 70 people as a result of the investigation.
“Our drug arrests continue to rise each year,” said Sheriff Faile, “but you cannot exclude the fact that the county is growing. More people are moving into Lancaster County.”
Forty-five charges for crack cocaine, 23 for cocaine, 19 for heroin, and 29 for marijuana were made along with 30 charges for controlled substances in pill form. Twenty trafficking charges and 75 distribution charges are among those totals. Nine firearms charges were also made, and several weapons were seized.
“You look and see 75 to 80 percent are repeat offenders,” said Sheriff Faile.
Operations like Fall Harvest are welcome to citizens and business owners in the county.
“A lot of the violence that has gone on is drug-related. I know with the recent murders here in the city and things like that,” said Howard Witherspoon, owner of Hot Dog King in Lancaster. “It does help. People want to come here and they are trying to reestablish this area, especially the downtown area. People want to be a part of this great community.”
“As long as the sun keeps rising there will be those in our community who, for various reasons, continue to use and deal illegal drugs,” said Sheriff Faile. “As secretive as they might think their activities are, they are known to our citizens and become known to law enforcement. We will continue to conduct these operations and put as many of these people in jail as we can.”