Claremore Daily Progress

Foyil

January 14, 2011

UPDATED: 64 arrested in historic drug bust

CLAREMORE — It likely was the state’s largest-ever drug bust, police said.

Police from 14 agencies raided the Rogers County homes of 78 drug dealers Thursday, arresting 64 of those who sold to undercover officers in an elaborate sting that police believe generated more arrest warrants than any in Oklahoma history.

“It went flawlessly,” said Claremore police Detective John Singer, who helped collect the warrants since August by buying drugs on the street. “We can’t find any other drug busts that had more warrants.”

About 100 police set off from the Rogers County building near the Claremore Expo Center early Thursday for “Operation Mickey Perry,” named for the 41-year Claremore police chief who works his final day Tuesday.

In seven hours, they loaded the Rogers County Jail with those charged with selling marijuana, prescription pills and meth. A breakdown of charges was not available Thursday.

Most live in Claremore, but at least three live in Foyil and one each in Inola and Tiawah, police said.

“It was extremely successful,” Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton said. “I can confidently say it’s the largest bust we’ve ever done.”

Singer, who spent nearly five months working with Detective Jeremiah Daniels to network with dealers, said the arrest count is deceptive because they involved street-level sellers, or those who sold small amounts locally.

Claremore police once arrested four dealers who controlled more drugs than the entire group arrested Thursday, he said.

“That’s something we’ve stressed from the beginning. This doesn’t mean that we have a bigger drug problem in Claremore than in any other community,” he said. “I don’t want it said that this means anything bad about Claremore.”

He attributed the warrant count to hours of working the streets and lucky tips from informants. He and Daniels earned reputations as partiers, setting up handoffs in parking lots around Claremore.

Police arrested dealers as young as 18 and as old as 80, Singer said.

“Some of these people sell drugs for a living, and that’s what they do. Some sell drugs so they can get free drugs and support their usage,” he said. “All walks of life.”

But one trait they shared: “I don’t think anyone we arrested today was too smart,” Singer said.

It would be difficult to know for sure if the sting is the state’s largest ever — at least by the number of arrest warrants, Singer said. But Claremore Police Department research indicated it likely is.

“Lots of praise goes to all of our men and women who pulled this off today,” said Claremore Police Assistant Chief Stan Brown, who will take Perry’s place as chief next week.

Most suspects went to the Rogers County Jail, but Walton said nearby counties took some. Others will pay bond quickly, relieving the jail, he said.

Singer said no officers or suspects were injured in the raids, and no shots were fired.

“Do we still have people selling drugs in Claremore today? Of course,” Walton said. “But I can say without any doubt in my mind that it’d be harder for someone to sell marijuana in Rogers County tonight than it was last night.”

Claremore police, the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol contributed most of the raiders.

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Foyil
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